Today, for the second time, I received a well-meaning email urging me to join with other Believers for one minute each evening to pray for our nation. That magical sixty seconds is delineated across U.S. time zones, so that we can all be on time. Predictably, the message quotes II Chronicles 7:14:
If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land. [ESV]
That verse doesn't say anything about limiting our petition to one minute. Let's take a closer look.
First of all, God makes it very clear that He is talking about His people who are called by His Name. Through a series of expository messages, my pastor is explaining who God's people are and how they should function within the New Testament church. He is debunking any squishy Emergent definitions we may have harbored. The primary--the Only--focus for Christ's people who are called by His Name is Christ Himself. He has placed a seal upon His people for Eternity; we are the Blood-bought Band.
II Chronicles 7:14 goes on to say shall humble themselves. How does one do that? Can it be done in one minute? Go ahead. Humble yourself. Hurry. Time's awastin'. If we follow the pattern for prayer that Jesus gave when He began with, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name," we will worship the Father for Whom He is: He dwells in heaven; He is sovereign; He is holy; His very Name is Holy. When we get in touch with that, it cannot help but humble us. When we realize that in prayer we enter the Holy of holies to communicate with the Creator of all in the universe, we are humbled. But in one minute? We still have a long way to go.
Then we are told to pray and seek God's face. We probably have a fairly clear understanding of praying, but what about that part about seeking God's face? How in the world to we do that? The only way I can think of to truly and authentically seek God's face is to prayerfully study His Word; that is how we can know Him; that is how He chooses to reveal His character to us. Can that be done in 60 seconds?
Finally, we are adjured to turn from our wicked ways. Wait a minute, God! You're talking to Your people! The Blood-bought Band! Don't you mean that those other people need to turn from their wicked ways? We certainly can see the results of their sin. As many at 3,700 unborn babies are murdered through abortion every day, the majority of them from minority groups. Homosexuality is practiced blatantly and thrown in our faces. Children and elders are being abused and exploited. Pornography and sexual perversion are problems, even with the Church. The list of "wicked ways" goes on. But, Lord...oh. I just said it, didn't I. The wicked ways of the world have insinuated themselves into the Body of Christ. God says we must turn from those things. Repent!
In one minute? I don't think so. Let's take all the time we need before the Throne of God.