“If my people, which are called by my name, shall 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).
We are probably well acquainted with our text and realise that it speaks of the need of revival, but as we apply it to our own lives we quickly come face to face with hindrances that halt our progress. We know the church needs revival but it is usually on the personal level that we find the cause of continued barrenness.
God is calling for His people to humble themselves which implies that pride was one major cause of the problems they were experiencing. The root meaning of the word “pride” suggests someone who has a “big head” or an “inflated ego.” Such pride rejects the need of God in a person’s life. Some Christians think of themselves as too dignified to humble themselves or be involved in revival, but God has a different view of them. “Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). God detest pride in all its forms. “These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look ….” (Proverbs 6:16-17). Pride, instead of exalting, actually brings a person to shame. “When pride cometh, then cometh shame … Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 11:2, 16:18). Pride has to be dealt with before God punishes it. “Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished” (Proverbs 16:5). The proud refuses to listen to either God’s word or good advice. They exalt themselves, talk about their achievements but get angry when others are in the limelight, see no need for repentance, and believe that they are so morally good that God must honour them.
God calls for humility even before dealing with sinfulness in our lives. This means that true humility is submitting fully to His authority and being dependant upon Him for everything. Unless pride (our will) is broken we cannot be used by God or receive the blessing of revival. “Do ye think that the scripture saith in vain, The spirit that dwelleth in us lusteth to envy? But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up” (James 4:5-10).
Those who do not need the Lord will not pray. Charles Finney said, “Prayer is the essential link in the chain of events that leads to revival!” We can dash about thinking that we can put all the mechanisms in place to promote revival, but it will not be lasting or of God if there is no prayer.
How often in our prayer meeting do we hear people telling God what they think or using it to pass on information to others? Such prayer is not from the heart and is ineffectual with God. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). The people of Nineveh got right with God by praying meaningful prayers (see the book of Jonah), and it will be no different today. Instead of telling God what to do we ought to be asking Him what He requires of us. This is what is meant by seeking His face. “He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” (Micah 6:8). The person who truly prays from the heart sees what God sees. “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted” (Luke 18:10-14).
God demands that His people turn from wickedness. All sin has to be given the death blow if we are to walk in holiness before Him. This means that holiness and sanctification are a prerequisite for revival, otherwise our sin will keep God from sending the revival we need. “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2). “Wicked ways” speaks of holding on to sinful practices and habits. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Psalm 66:18). Then God will hate our prayers as much as He hates our pride and sin. “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination” (Proverbs 28:9).
Sin must be dealt with before revival can come. All secret sin must be brought to God, then He will cleanse our hearts and prepare us from the blessing. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy” (Proverbs 28:13) … “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). It is time to be honest with God about ourselves.
It is only after we get right with God in the way He has prescribed will He hear and answer our prayer. Then He will heal our spiritually barren churches by sending the revival we need. If we want a revival then we must meet God’s conditions for it. If we are really His people then we are candidates for revival. Will we continue going our own way or turn and do it God’s way?