2 Chronicles 7:14 – If My people who are called by My name will 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. (NKJV)
As a member of the Board of the Renewal Fellowship Within the Presbyterian Church in Canada, I have come to appreciate more and more the importance of prayer in our day and time. The prayer initiative for the last few years has been based on 2 Chronicles 7:14. Recently, I was pondering that Scripture, and how the Israelites were constantly attracted to the customs, values, and beliefs of the peoples and nations around them. They ended up taking idols for themselves and adopting the worship of those gods, following practices that were an abomination to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (or Israel), Creator of the universe. In a word, they were wicked. Today, we tend to think of "wicked" as describing actions including murder, rape, child abuse, etc. Those things are wicked. In the younger generation, "wicked" can even mean amazing, awesome, exciting, or in a word, good!
As I substituted the word "worldly" for "wicked" in the passage, I was powerfully moved, because that is exactly what it meant: following the ways of the world! I began to think about how I have allowed the world's way of thinking to influence my thinking. To say something is all right, even good, when God says it is sin, is doing exactly the same thing that the Israelites had done. In the church today, so much of what we do and the way we think is influenced by what is promoted by the world around us, which espouses no use for our God. Then, I am called to humble myself, pray, seek His face, and turn (repent) from my worldly ways if I want God to hear my prayer, forgive my sin, and heal me. We in the church are called to do the same. There is a song by Michael W. Smith called "Lord, have mercy" (you can listen to it on Youtube). It begins:
- Jesus, I've forgotten the words that You have spoken.
Promises that burned within my heart have now grown dim.
With a doubting heart I follow the paths of earthly wisdom.
Forgive me for my unbelief. Renew the fire again.
It's my prayer. May it also be yours — and our church's.
Deuteronomy 30:15–18 – See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil, in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways, and to keep His commandments, His statutes, and His judgments, that you may live and multiply; and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you go to possess. But if your heart turns away so that you do not hear, and are drawn away, and worship other gods and serve them, I announce to you today that you shall surely perish; you shall not prolong your days in the land which you cross over the Jordan to go in and possess. (NKJV)
1 John 2:15 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life – is not of the Father, but is of the world. And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever. (NKJV)
Prayer: Search my mind and heart, O God, and show me if there is any worldly way in me. O Lord, forgive, and lead me back to the path of life. Amen.