July 29, 2015 by holy rollin hooker
“(14) 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. (15) Now my eyes will be open and my ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.”
Ever feel like your prayers to God are going straight to voicemail? According to the scriptures, in order for God to hear from us, we must do four things:
Anyone who has done even the most preliminary of studies into the nature of God’s character knows that he hates one thing above all else: pride. We’re not talking about the kind of pride that makes you stand up for yourself when you are wronged or leads you to acknowledge your own good qualities and use them to the fullest. We’re talking about the kind of pride that makes you think that you are better than others and deserve more from God by virtue of your being so much higher in mind and spirit. God hates pride because it is the root of so many other damaging vices in a person’s character like envy, greed, hatred, rebellion, and so many other actions and attitudes that do nothing but separate us from God. Pride is anathema to humility. In order to really connect to God, we have to let go of ourselves and our pride. We have to humble ourselves.
Now this may seem to be an obvious thing, but you would be surprised how many Christians don’t regularly schedule a little one-on-one time with God. I mean, how can anyone expect God to answer prayers that are never actually prayed? And keep in mind that good quality prayer time with God doesn’t always mean shutting yourself away from the world for hours at a time and talking and wailing until you’re fit to pass out. God understands and appreciates 20 words as much as he does 20,000 as long as they are heartfelt. True prayer boils down to no more than praising God just for being God and because you know that he can do anything, confessing and repenting any overlooked transgressions, asking for whatever specific needs you face at the moment, and thanking him in advance for meeting them according to his will. If you are efficient enough to do that in 15 minutes, then make sure you set that aside every day. Also try to remember that prayer can take place all day long. We should all constantly be in a spirit of prayer in our hearts and minds.
Seek God’s Face
Prayer is definitely one way to seek God’s face. It’s the most direct way to do it, as is reading the Bible. For me, reading the Bible actually serves as the more direct way to seek God. We have all experienced times when we pray and we wish we could just get some instant feedback. Sometimes God waits an exorbitantly long time to answer or even acknowledge our prayers. I will not even begin to try to speculate as to why since I think the reason he does this varies from person to person and situation to situation. Suffice it to say that it happens. When you read the Bible, however, you get almost instant feedback. Sometimes, yes, it can be a bit ambiguous. And sometimes I read for like half an hour before I realize that I didn’t understand one iota of what I just read, but then there are times when it seems to literally spring to life and I feel like all the understanding in the world is rushing into me at once. That, I have come to believe, is the true face of God.
Turn From Your Wicked Ways
Again, another thing you think would be obvious but isn’t. God has never, in the history of all that is, every admonished anyone for not being perfect. He never called for perfection from anyone. He is not in the business of setting people up to fail. He does, however, expect us to make the effort at every turn to strive to be better. He has every expectation for us to make the conscience decision to, “Go, and sin no more.” Turning away from sin and “wicked ways” doesn’t mean that you will never sin again. That’s a fool’s errand. It simply means that from the moment you open your eyes, your goal for that day is not to sin and to confess and repent should it happen.
Meeting these four criteria is like guessing the secret password that grants us direct access to God and him direct access to us. As it says in verse 15, doing these things opens his eyes and attunes his ears to our prayers. Eliminating any one of these things could be cause enough for our prayers not to be answered or even heard. And it’s not as if what God is asking for here is adding any extra burden to your everyday routine. As Christians, these are all things that we are doing as a part of our spiritual walk anyway, right?