The tiny word that carries so much weight
Why do ‘good’ prayers, widely agreed, remain apparently unanswered?
From our perspective, it’s about the healing of the land — the widespread economic, physical and spiritual woes.
God has a higher perspective. He is looking at what He has promised with eternal gravity, and how those promises can be fulfilled.
Here is a key part of a promise He made to King Solomon at the time of dedicating the newly-built painstakingly-crafted temple in Jerusalem.
This is part of a much longer prayer-and-answer sequence in 2 Chronicles 6 and 7, excerpted from perhaps the most memorable verse:
If My people… will… seek My face… then I will… heal their land.
2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV11
The word “if” is a condition, a turning point in this covenant-assured
It is notable that when Solomon prays his prayer (2 Chron. 6), the repeated word that stands out is “when”.
But in God’s response, the long statement we have in 2 Chronicles 7 the stand-out word is “if”. This is repeated six or seven times.
“If” is the language of a condition in an agreement. It defines the circumstances which trigger the agreement. If the condition is met, the promise happens.
There is also something unstated that follows on from “if”.
How the condition is met, implies something about the opposite, the condition not being met.
So whereever there is an “if”, there is also an unstated “if not”.
If God’s people don’t step up to the mark and don’t carry out the “if” of the agreement, then it follows that not only will the promise not happen but the opposite of the promise may start to occur.
In a situation where only a small minority of people talk freely about having a personal relationship with God through Jesus, there are only a few who God can call “My people” — a minority, even in many churches.
If God worked in a unilateral way, deciding what He was going to do and just doing it, the praying people of the “if” would not matter so much.
But God is not only a Creator; He is a God of covenant. He has chosen to work through people, and especially the ones He can count on to be listening to Him and responding to Him.
The fewer those committed and listening people there are, the more difficult it is for His plans and purposes to take place. He simply does not have many people available to work through.
This is why the praying, responsive people of the “if” are indispensable.
This is especially true in a secular society when most people are preoccupied with their own concerns and do not have the additional higher perspective of God’s kingdom purpose.
God is relying on His people of the “if” to be the ones He can rely on and work through.
They are the ones who can call to Him and call down the good that He has always had planned.
He is the Creator and also the God of covenant promise and partnership.
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