By Rev Anne Hibbard, Secretary, Assembly of Confessing Congregations of the Uniting Church in Australia.
How and what we should pray.
“Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord ….and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. He said: “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.”
2 Chronicles 6:12, 13b, 26-27. NIV
All of us have been heartbroken looking at pictures of many parts of Australia and the empty or near-empty dams. Together as the churches in Australia, we have called this month of prayer and fasting to come before the Lord and pray for rain. But how and what should we pray? What is it that we are to ask the Lord to do?
We all are familiar with 2 Chronicles 7:14. “If my people who are called by my name.” The verses we have today are in the previous chapter. The temple had finally been built by Solomon and he came and dedicated in prayer the temple to the Lord. He knelt humbly before the finished altar and spread out his hands to heaven in petition and praise.
Solomon imagined a time when the future Israel are sinning against God, causing the heavens to be shut and no rain falling. He then as part of a prayer to God, gave three needed actions of the people and four actions of the Lord.
The first action of the people in prayer is to LOOK TO THE TEMPLE. Solomon was meaning the temple he had just finished in Jerusalem. But the temple we are to look as we pray for rain, is our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and now risen (John 2:19-21). We come to the Father through Christ and pray in Jesus’ name.
The second action of the people in prayer is to PRAISE GOD’S NAME. This Hebrew word used is yāḏāh, which means “an act of acknowledging what is right about God in praise and thanksgiving (CWSB Dictionary)”. Instead of anxious prayers, may each of us as we pray for rain lift our hands and voices in praise and thanksgiving to God for who he is.
The third action of the people in prayer is to REPENT or “turn from their sin”. It won’t be difficult to think of many sins that Australia has to repent of. However, the Lord is calling us to repent in Jesus’ mighty name, firstly from sin in our life. Then we move out and repent on behalf of our families, neighbourhood, workplace, town, city, region, country and the world.
We can repent in confidence knowing there is power in the blood of Jesus Christ to forgive sin, and also in the gift of the Holy Spirit to live a new life.
As we LOOK TO CHRIST, PRAISE HIS NAME, and REPENT, the Lord will HEAR from heaven, FORGIVE our sin, TEACH us the right way to live, and SEND not only rain on our land but also the Holy Spirit in the hearts of the people. Then revival has come.
Heavenly Father, we come to you in faith as Solomon did. Help us together as the churches in Australia to LOOK TO CHRIST, to PRAISE YOUR NAME and to REPENT. We trust that through Jesus Christ you will HEAR our cry, FORGIVE our sin, TEACH us your ways and SEND the rain and the revival we so much need in our dry parched land of Australia. In Jesus’ mighty name. Amen.
Praise His Name – Glory 4 www.youtube.com/watch?v=KripknVpEHI