“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 I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
I love 2 Chronicles 7:14. I believe it’s powerful in its promise. It gives me hope for the healing of an entire nation. But it’s not enough. Preachers have proclaimed 2 Chronicles 7:14 as a promise from God that if only the church in America would do what it says, then America would be healed. But that’s not true.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying the Bible is untrue, or that this verse is untrustworthy. Nor am I saying that we shouldn’t do those things; we absolutely should humble ourselves, pray and seek the face of God, and turn from our wicked ways. We should expect that God will forgive the sins of those who turn to him in repentance. But we can’t say that the promise is that God will heal America, or any other nation, for that matter, if only the church people of the land follow these steps. If these steps are the only ones we follow in the hope of a national awakening, we will probably be disappointed.
Why do I say this? For one, the promise is specifically made to the nation of Israel. God is saying that when they fall away from him and suffer the consequences, they can follow these steps and God will heal the land of Israel. It’s rarely, if ever, entirely appropriate to take a specific promise to Israel and apply that to America or other countries. The principles of 2 Chronicles 7:14 may be universal, but the specific promise is not. There are lots of differences between “their land” and ours.
In their land, with the exception of some foreigners, all the people were the people of God under the Old Covenant. In our land, all the people can’t be considered the people of God. In America, Christians are not even the majority anymore. In some countries, God’s people, that is, Christians, are a tiny, persecuted minority. Can we really say that if only the small, suffering church in an oppressive country would get its act together, then God would heal their entire land? Of course not. We can’t say that in America, either.
Here’s a big danger of relying only on the principles of 2 Chronicles 7:14 for a national awakening and the healing of our land: it causes Christians to turn inward. Do we need to clean up our own house first? Certainly. Might the steps of 2 Chronicles 7:14 be a precursor to revival? I believe they are. But we can’t stop there. We can’t act as though we can just take care of our internal situation and the land will be alright, because it won’t. I think that’s been the problem with some previous revivals: Christians repent and experience God, but never go beyond that.
I would like to suggest that a better prayer model for the American church at this moment, if we expect to see a national awakening, is the prayer of the church in Acts 4, especially these verses:
Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus (Acts 4:29-30).
It was after that prayer that God poured out his Spirit afresh on a church eager to get on with their mission in spite of the opposition they faced. In our day, we have to recognize that America is not Old Covenant Israel, that it is a not-always-friendly mission field, and is in dire need of Christians who are bold to speak God’s word, full of expectation of the power of God to be revealed, and empowered by a fresh work of the Holy Spirit.
Do I believe we need 2 Chronicles 7:14 prayer? Absolutely. But we need to move into the New Covenant with Acts 4 kind of prayer if we want to see a great spiritual awakening in our land. Let’s ask for boldness. Let’s believe for God to do his part. And let’s expect God to pour out his Spirit on us. Let’s expect revival.
Does this blog post challenge you? Does it make you think? Does it inspire you at all? I would love to hear your feedback. If you get this by email or social media, I invite you to go to EdCrenshaw.com and share your comments.