Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The prayer of a righteous man...

A couple of weeks ago, Rev. Jay Sunberg (the Church of the Nazarene's Field Strategies Coordinator for Central Europe, and an all-around good guy) spoke at our house-church meeting in Kraków. Jay spoke from II Chronicles 7:14 -an inspiring, challenging text under any circumstances- and used it to explore the ways in which the "bigness" of God's plans sometimes contrast with our own.

"What would GOD say needs to happen in Poland?" Jay asked us. "In our community? In our neighborhood? In our church?" (My thoughts: more prayer, more service, and more relational invitations!)

Here's what God says is possible:
"...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." -II Chronicles 7:14 (NIV)

Thanks to Jay, so many things strike me now about that passage:

1.) "My people. "
In other words...God's best plan to heal our broken world starts with (and depends on) us!?! We are his people. He has called us. And we are called to humility, to prayer, to righteousness, and to action. Only then can God move in the fullness of his purpose...which he chooses to accomplish through us! Not money, not governments, not power, not overwhelming resources...when we're obedient, he uses us. Wow. What a scary, exciting thought!

2.) "Humble themselves."
The sooner that we acknowledge that we don't have all of the answers and submit ourselves to God's will for our lives, the better it will be for all concerned. Especially us!

3.) "Pray."
Jesus taught his disciples to pray big prayers, saying "Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matthew 7:10-12, NIV) We need to remember that God is not limited by the constraints of our circumstances...he's a good, all-powerful father, who longs to be at work in and through the lives of his children. We need to ask God to move in big, only-God-can-do-this ways, and then trust him to do so!

4.) "Seek my face."
We need to become ever more God-conscious in our daily lives...to seek God's face in prayer and meditation, and to see his face in the faces of the people that we live, work, and play with. In my experience, searching for God's will often simply means doing God's will -doing the good, God-pleasing things that we know to do- and actively listening for his voice along the way. God's not hiding; he wants more than anything for us to know him and be known by him!

5.) "Turn from their wicked ways."
To make a long story short, I've been kicking a passage from 5th Grade Bible class around in my ahead for several days now. "The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much." (James 5:16, KJV). In other words: God can't use me (in full) until I stop doing A, B, and C, nor until I start doing X, Y, and Z...that's what it means -for me- to be a righteous man. One whose prayer availeth much. So I've got some work to do!

6.) The Payoff:
"...then I WILL HEAR from heaven, and I WILL FORGIVE their sin and WILL HEAL their land." This is big, exciting, only-God-can-do-this stuff!!! :)

Here's how Jay put it:
"If these things are true (and God says they are)...we need to pray for BIG things. We need to pray for POLAND. We need to pray KRAKÓW. For our NEIGHBORHOOD. For our FRIENDS...and how do we get from meeting people to building relationships to introducing them to Jesus? The bridge is PRAYER."


Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some habits to learn (and a few to unlearn). As always, your prayers are appreciated! :)


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