“If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” 2 Chronicles 7:14
Previously in this study the word ‘intentional’ was used … specifically the need to be ‘intentional in our pursuit of Him’. I find myself at a place in life where ‘intentional’ is becoming essential to my Christian walk. (It always was, but God is faithful to bring us to that place where our heart becomes aware of the need for intention, purpose & action … to a place of humility)
We’ve established humility as both a declaration of one’s powerlessness and the decision to act in that light. By myself, alone, I’ve found that powerless can be a scary situation. But true humility will not only empty us of our self but, also cause us to recognize our need and reach out for Someone greater. A humbled heart will cause us to cry out.
The younger son did this in the story of the prodigal (Luke 15: 11- 32). In arrogance & pride, with no regard for his father this young man demanded what should have been his only after the death of his father. The inheritance that the son asked for would normally have been safeguarded by years of instruction, experience and loving discipline by the father. But, like so many of us, this younger son felt he already knew it all. He took his inheritance and walked away from both his father and family. We are familiar with the downward spiral that led to the son’s moment of humility and decision to appeal to his father’s mercy. If not, check out Luke 15.
Only after recognizing his poverty and need did the younger son decide to return to his father as a humbled servant. And it was in seeing his son return in a humbled state (probably evidenced by his worn clothing, weakened physical state & hesitant gait) that the father joyfully ran and embraced his son. The humbled son had his father’s attention.
The best definition that I have heard for prayer is in the words of Dr. Ralph Martin, “Prayer is, at root, simply paying attention to God”. My eyes are off myself, off my situation and on the only one capable of being the One my heart needs. My focus can only truly be on my Father and be undivided when I have realized the poverty within myself. In the words of Charles Spurgeon, “Humility is the herald which ushers in the great King.”
It is humility that will loosen God’s ears to hear our cry. I love the heart of King David expressed in Psalm 86. In verse 1 David shows us the condition of his heart … poor, needy & hungry. “Incline Your ear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and distressed, needy and desiring.” The earthly king continues to humbly make a spectacle of both his poverty and the heavenly King’s richness until in verse 7 he confidently declares, “In the day of my trouble I will call on You, for You will answer me.”
The next step in the humble life is paying attention to God … prayer. It is more than just talking to God. To only focus on our own voice isn’t really humility. We need to still our heart, both its pride and its fear, and be prepared to listen. Apart from listening there is no real humility. Without being willing to listen for his father’s voice the returning son would have continued to live life as a servant. He would never have heard his father command the servants to restore honour and sonship to the one who returned. He would have sentenced himself to the role of servanthood and missed out on the celebration of a restored son and the father’s joy.
We lose so much when we don’t lay our heart open before God, and then quiet self and prepare to hear Him. In King David’s plea for mercy and renewal in Psalm 51, he recognized “Heart-shattered lives ready for love don’t for a moment escape God’s notice.” (v. 17 MSG)
There has never been a greater time to intentionally pray & pay attention to God.
Prepared by Susan Holmes.