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
Diet is a very important part of weight control, but it is not the only thing. There is exercise, and I have read that the right amount of sleep is a factor in weight control. And weight control is not maintained by binge dieting. It is controlled by a healthy lifestyle.
Likewise when we talk about prayer and revival there is more to revival than prayer. In conversations about prayer and revival 2 Chronicles 7:14 is often mentioned. However, prayer is not the only remedy for revival mentioned in this quote. Binge praying may lead to a temporary revival just as binge dieting leads to temporary weight control. Yet temporary weight control is no weight control at all, and temporary revival is no revival at all. If a heart attack victim is revived in the ambulance only to die in the ER, he is dead just the same.
So what besides prayer is suggested in the 2 Chronicles 7:14 recipe for revival?
The first ingredient is humbleness. God asks us to humble ourselves before we pray. This one is hard, because we often find pride in revival. We rebuild an old ’65 Ford Mustang, and once we have it looking shiny and new, we are proud. Our team revives itself and comes back to win late in the game. And that makes us proud. The idea of humbleness being an ingredient in revival goes against human nature. It is also very deceiving. I once listened to a lady in Texas brag to me about how humble she was! No joke! Her exact words, which utter shock embedded into my brain forever, were, “I am the most humble person I know.” She was serious and sincere. Hence the shock on my part.
Another time I was visiting with a family who assured me they realized nobody was perfect. One family member sincerely said, “No family is perfect,” and then emphatically drove the point home by exclaiming, “not even us!” Say what? I did not bother assuring them I never thought that, and mused to myself where they got the idea that one would need to be assured their family was not perfect. They meant well. I don’t think theirs is the only family that does not sense its hidden pride.
I was amused a while back during volleyball season. The church school’s girl’s volleyball team was winless. That was not amusing. What was amusing were the three different team mothers who told me privately, one at a time, that their daughter is very skilled and talented, but the other girls just don’t know how to play. If those mothers had all been correct about their daughters, the team would not have been winless. I never told the mothers that the other mothers were saying the same thing. I just nodded and smiled.
An old friend once told me in reference to prayer, “We can be kneeling on our knees but still standing in our hearts.”
Wisdom and humility make a very winsome combination, while stupidity and arrogance combine for disgrace. Funny thing is, I have never seen wisdom and arrogance together at all! They just don’t combine with each other just as iron does not mix with clay.
There is one cure for pride and arrogance. Look to Jesus and the cross.
When I survey the wondrous cross
On which the Prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss,
And pour contempt on all my pride.
–Isaac Watts, “When I survey the Wondrous Cross.”
Going on a humble binge will not revive us anymore than binge dieting will lead us to health. It must be an everyday part of our life. Any time self revives the revival dies.
And he said to them all, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. Luke 9:23
And I cried
Who nailed Him there
This Child of peace and mercy
Who nailed Him there
Come and face me like a man
Who nailed Him there
And the crowd began to mock me
I cried Oh my God I just don’t understand
Then I turned and saw the hammer
In my hand!
–Steve Milikan, “The Hammer”
That thought alone should keep us humble throughout our life on this earth, till the day we throw our crowns at the feet of Jesus!