As we anticipate our next Night of Worship on Sunday, November 12, I want you to consider a question.
Do you believe God hears your prayers?
Over the past several weeks, as I have been preparing for our times of gathered worship and the upcoming Night of Worship, I have found myself coming back to 2 Chronicles 7:14 over and over again.
For context, the beginning of 2 Chronicles documents the building of the temple in Israel. Once the work is completed, King Solomon gathers all of the people and dedicates the temple with a prayer and sacrifices. After the dedication, fire comes down from heaven, consuming the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord fills the temple. The people are stunned. They, just like us, have only heard stories of this kind of thing happening generations before. They fall down, faces against the ground, and cry out in worship, “For he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
That night, God visits Solomon and responds directly to his prayer. It’s in that response where we get this promise from God, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (v. 14).
Why does God promise this? He tells us just before: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice” (v. 12). God is basically saying, “I am holy and just—I will discipline my holy people—but I am also compassionate. And, I have chosen this temple, to accept the sacrifices made for sin here, and to hear the prayers made here.”
What does this have to do with us? We don’t worship at a temple and we don’t sacrifice animals. Well, the Bible teaches us that the temple of Solomon’s day was just a foretaste. That, in fact, that temple—in all of its presence-of-God, fire-from-heaven glory—is just a dim picture of God’s true temple: Christ Jesus. Jesus says in John 2:19, referring to himself, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (See also Matthew 12:6, Hebrews 10:1–25, and 1 Peter 2:4-5.)
In short, this verse is a guarantee that yes, God does hear our prayers. 2 Chronicles 7:14 is, if anything, a promise of greater scope and scale for those of us in Christ today than for those who witnessed heaven’s glory fill the temple all those years ago.
There are grand, spiritual realities at work when you cry out to God. Today, when you, as a Christian, offer prayers to God—whether in corporate worship, around a dinner table, or in lonely places—you offer those prayers in Christ, God’s perfect temple, chosen by him. And just as he promised Solomon, God will forgive you of sin and will heal that which you have broken.
We are nearing the end of a year in which we have resolved to be a praying church. That resolution is rooted in a confidence, by faith, that God hears his people and that he answers, forgives, and restores. It’s not too late to get in on this. Come pray together on November 12th. Commit to a daily rhythm of private prayer. Pray with your family daily and your group each time you meet. Pray for friends and neighbors—then and there—when they share a burden. Pray together on Sunday nights throughout the new year. God hears.