Will God Hear Us?

The following passage captures God’s response to the inaugural opening service for the temple, the symbol of His dwelling among His people Israel:

Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name 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. Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayer that is made in this place. – 2 Chronicles 7:12-15 (ESV)

God requires four things of His children in order for Him to give heed to their prayers and stave off His judgment. As Christians, identified by His name, first, we must embrace our lowly position in regard to God. Sometimes we can think too highly of ourselves and our requests, wanting God to submit to our will, and so usurp the heavenly throne. We must submit to God’s rule if we expect Him to bend His ear to us.

Secondly, we must converse with God. Pour out the hopes and desires of your heart before Him. Sure, He already knows every word before it is on our lips but He likes to hear from us anyway. Reading God’s Word alone is to receive monologue, responding to it in prayer transforms it into dialogue.

Thirdly, we must bask in the radiance of God’s glory, not merely looking to what we might gain from His hand but desiring, as a priority, to gaze upon His face. Jesus gave God a face and I, for one, can’t wait to look upon our Saviour’s face, no longer inhibited by my sins which He has taken away. Which brings us to our fourth requirement. We must repent, forsaking our wickedness. Sin is a major hindrance to prayer. If together we enact these four requirements we can be assured that God will hear us.

Father, aid us by Your Spirit to humble ourselves, talk to You, seek Your face and turn from our wicked ways. Once You help us to do these things, have mercy on us in response to our prayers: forgive our wickedness and heal our land of drought, pests and viruses. In Jesus’ name we pray.

Deceived

But the LORD God called to the man and said to him, “Where are you?” And he said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked, and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” – Genesis 3:9-13

Through the man and the woman’s disobedience they are exposed. Instead of repenting and seeking forgiveness from the LORD the man simultaneously implicates God and attempts to shift the blame to the woman. The woman, in turn, points the finger of blame at the serpent. I believe that their unrepentant attitude, more than anything else, is essentially what drove them from the garden.

Father, help us to turn from stubborn disobedience and seek Your forgiveness. May we avoid the temptation to justify doing the wrong thing. The serpent may deceive us but we don’t do anything we don’t want to. Sorry. We stand naked before You, please clothe us with Christ.

Remember Me

One of the criminals who were hanged railed at [Jesus], saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And [Jesus] said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.” – Luke 23:39-43 

This passage is often bandied about as a prime example that simple ‘trust in Jesus’ is all that is necessary for salvation, since this criminal never had the opportunity to do anything to earn his salvation. Salvation can’t be earned. However, real life-saving-faith is always accompanied by deeds (James 2:17) and this criminal’s faith was accompanied with at least one deed, he stood up for Jesus who said:

So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. – Matthew 10:32-33

Not only did this criminal make “the good confession” (1 Timothy 6:12) regarding Jesus, but he did so when he was the only one and in the face of much opposition. The disciples had all abandoned Jesus, their hopes extinguished by the cross, and the soldiers openly mocked Jesus, and yet this criminal had Jesus’ victorious kingdom in sight while everyone else perceived crushing defeat.

Jesus, You placed Yourself under the same sentence of condemnation that we deserved, choosing to save us instead of Yourself. Thank You that, at the cross, You received the due reward of our deeds, shielding us from judgment because You had done nothing wrong. Bring about in us the good deeds which prove that our trust in You is genuine. Remember us, and help us to own You before men.