It is not the prayers from the world that are powerful and effective. They may cry out in their hour of need but they do not have the relationship with God that the church should already have. It is the prayer of the righteous that is powerful and effective. It is that prayer and seeking of the face of God which moves Him to hear us from heaven. God also cannot hear us from heaven if we ourselves are captive to sin. This Chronicles verse is imploring the church to turn from their own wicked ways. As the apostasy in these final days grows ever more severe, it is even more important that the church stand for something. Not something politically but something morally. Not something socially but something internally. Yet we seem more preoccupied with the world behaving like the world, than we are about our own behavior. How many times a year do we hear of another fallen Christian leader? How many times do we hear of Christianity wrapped up in ungodliness? How many would rather be preaching about the prosperity of this life than the riches we should be storing up in heaven? These double standards and mixed messages are not lost on the world. They are in darkness to the ways of God, not the hypocrisy of man. The church cannot be the powerful instrument in the hands of God to save the lost if itself, is lost.
The second offering God is extending is to forgive our sins. Sure we received this grace and mercy when we first were saved but we all continue to sin and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Repentance is critical for us as Christians. This offer is also contingent upon the same conditions however. God will not forgive your sins without humility. The proud do not seek forgiveness. In a lot of the aforementioned "Christian" emails, we see very little humility. In fact there is a certain air of superiority over the worldly people. We have forgotten that it is not anything of our doing that we are saved. It is not of ourselves that we have any righteousness at all. The prophet Isaiah tells us:
All of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags; we all shrivel up like a leaf, and like the wind our sins sweep us away. Isaiah 64: 6
Our righteousness is but filthy rags before our holy God. No brethren, it is only because of the blood of Christ that we have any righteousness at all. The apostle Paul wrote three quarters of the New Testament and was taken up to the third heavens yet always referred to himself as the "least of these." Even in his epic writing about the thorn in his flesh, Paul teaches us why God allowed the thorn:
To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 2Corinthians 12: 7
Why? To keep him from being conceited. What is the opposite of conceit? Humility. God will also not forgive us our sins if we do not pray and seek His face. Once again, that seems simple enough. It is about the relationship we have with Him. He knows our sin and He sees it. He just wants us to be humble enough to approach Him with it and seek His face so that He can forgive our sins. God also will not forgive those sins however, if we do not turn from them. Turn from their wicked ways, says God almighty. True repentance requires a change in heart and behavior. It was the primary message when Jesus began His ministry:
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Matthew 4:17
Lastly, God is offering to heal our land. Impossible you say? Not so if the church would just be the church. Once again, the same conditions have to be met and met by the church, not the world. If the church would humble itself before God then God says he will heal our land. Do you see the connection? It is the lack of humility the church possesses that is actually contributing to the decline of our society! How so? A humble church allows God to be strong in it and through it. A proud church relies upon its own strength. A humble Christian wants to bring the lost to the saving grace of God. A proud Christian wants to bring his view of Christian morals to the lost. It is only through humility that we can realize that we cannot force Christ upon the lost. We can only bring the lost to Christ. It is the Gospel that breaks the yoke, not morality. In the Gospel of Luke we see a parable that closely relates to where we sometimes find the church at today: