13th April 2020; David writes from the rectory ......
For many years 2 Chronicles 7 verse 14 has been a verse that God has often spoken to me through. I’m sure that many of you will also be familiar with this amazing promise. “If my people who are called by my name shall humble themselves and pray, and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways then I will hear from heaven and forgive their sins and heal their land.” Without doubt this is a verse that speaks directly into the situation that we currently find ourselves in.
But I have to admit that until last week when Pete Greig the founder of the 24-7 prayer movement referred to it in his book dirty glory, I had never noticed the preceding verse 13 ever before. “When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land, or send a plague…. “
It struck me that two of the most important words in this verse are also two of the smallest words which could resulting in us missing the significance of them altogether.
The first word is when. When not if things go wrong. While we may no longer experience plagues of locust devouring the land but the modern day equivalent would be a banking collapse or a recession. God does not promise to eliminate crisis from the lives of his people. In fact crises are opportunities for us to shine as beacons of light and faith.
Secondly God says that when such troubles come he will hear us if, not when we turn to him for help. Sadly it is not inevitable, nor automatic that we will respond to the problems of life with humility and prayer. Sadly history shows only too clearly that human instinct in the face of any crisis is independence not intercession. We are self-help addicts: God tends to be our last resort.
At this crucial time in our history the government is doing all it can by providing temporary nightingale hospitals and extra equipment and staff to run them and by supporting business which are not able to operate. The public by and large are doing their bit by staying at home. While these things are important we as Christian’s must also do what we can do, and continue to PRAY, not as a last resort but as a top priority that God will have mercy upon us deliver us from this evil virus and heal our land.
In times of trouble, may the Lord answer your cry. May the name of the God of Jacob keep you safe from all harm. May he send you help from his sanctuary and strengthen you from Jerusalem. May he remember all your gifts and look favorably on your burnt offerings.
May he grant your heart’s desires and make all your plans succeed. May we shout for joy when we hear of your victory and raise a victory banner in the name of our God. May the Lord answer all your prayers.
Some nations boast of their chariots and horses, but we boast in the name of the Lord our God. Those nations will fall down and collapse, but we will rise up and stand firm.
Suggested songs for the 12 noon prayer times
Tuesday Happy Day Tim Hughes
Wednesday Jesus Christ is risen today
Thursday Man of sorrows
Friday the reckless love of God
Saturday great is thy faithfulness
Monday blessed be your name
photo of prayers in the western wall in Jerusalem October 2019