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The power of a praying nation

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pastorbernie@yahoo.com

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 will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.- 2 Chronicles 7:14

On the night of the dedication of the glorious temple Solomon built in honor of God, he experienced a divine visitation. In his dream, God said to him, “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a temple of sacrifice.” At that moment, King Solomon understood more deeply the purpose of God for that sacred temple. Verse 13 reads, “When I shut up the heavens so that there no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among my people…”

The temple of the Lord was God’s anointed place where the Israelites could cry out to God when there was no water in the land; or when their crops were being devoured by pests or when there is plague destroying the people. In other words, the Holy Place of God was God’s concrete and visual reminder of his faithfulness, his power and his eternal love for his people. Furthermore, the Temple was God’s special and powerful way of assuring the people that no natural calamanity, no pestilence or even no deadly plague could ever destroy the people whom God has chosen and called. But you see, the conditions set by God for his people to experience his faithfulness, his power and his eternal love were also clearly stated.

Humble yourselves and pray

Israel as a nation during Solomon’s time, had a proud and arrogant past. As descendants of Jacob who were escaped death during a great famine that hit the region, they were miraculously preserved by God by bringing them to Egypt during the time of Joseph. In Egypt, they enjoyed the blessings of the land, but after Joseph died, they lost favor in the eyes of the Egyptian government and were soon subjected to hard labor. But God had a mighty plan and saved them miraculously again through the leadership of Moses. But despite all these, the people often backslid and their hearts were quick to turn away from God in moments of difficulty. Their pride and arrogance often resulted in their constant grumbling, their endless complaining and their never-ending rebellion and disobedience to God. Prayer is powerful. Every time we pray, we are able to powerfully acknowledge our utter dependence on God, confess our innermost weaknesses and yield to his grace and power- not only individually, but even as a nation.

Seek God’s face

During the Old Testament times, no one was permitted to see God’s face. Because of sinfulness, no one could ever be able to stand the intense glory and holiness of God and live. The face of God therefore, was a symbol of holiness. Therefore, seeking the face of God means desiring God’s holiness in every aspect of our lives. Many politicians have promised to eradicate the problem of corruption in our nation. But you see, eradicating corruption entails more than just punishing corrupt officials, changing the systems in society and government and enforcing new laws in the land. The Bible already gives us a stern warning on these powerless approaches. The Israelite’s for instance were given the 10 commandments and so many other religious and cultural laws, but all these laws failed to change them and their way of life. That’s why prophet Jeremiah prophesied the word of God who said, “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33). Seeking the face of God therefore, is getting into the heart of our problem. It is believing that only a changed mind and changed heart can ever change our nation in the truest and deepest sense.

Turn from wickedness

Many of us have already heard the phrase “prophetic voice.” This phrase became very popular in the Philippines especially during the martial law years when many churches and religious groups defended the poor and the oppressed against the dictator. What we need to understand however is that genuine spirit of prophecy is more than just speaking against the ills of government or defending the poor and the oppressed. Genuine prophets are men and women who truly love God and people. They have genuine understanding of God’s word and God’s purposes. This is the reason why we must remain discerning. True prophets do not only draw people away from wickedness. Real prophets lead people to the Lord and not to personal or political ideologies and loyalties.

Only a nation whose God is the Lord can never be destroyed. Let us humble ourselves and pray, let us seek God’s face and let us turn from our wicked ways; and let us believe the promise of God that he will heal from heaven, forgive our sins, and heal our land. God bless the Philippines!

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