“Now, O my God, I pray, let Your eyes be open and Your ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place” (2 Chronicles 6:36-40).
There are many passages in Scripture that call us to wait upon and watch for God in our life situations. One of my favorite passages that keep me mindful to watch for God in my day to day, moment by moment times, is King David’s words quoted in Acts 2:25-28. It is my constant goal and hope.
“I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken. Therefore my heart was glad and my tongue exulted; moreover my flesh also will live in hope; because You will not abandon my soul to Hades, nor allow Your holy one to undergo decay. You have made known to me the ways of life; You will make me full of gladness with Your presence.”
In Solomon’s prayer covered yesterday, Solomon prays for God’s eyes to be open and His ears attentive to our prayers. Just as He graciously answered the rest of Solomon’s request as found in 2 Chronicles 7:14, He also responds to this part of the prayer in 7:15, “Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayer offered in this place.” When we follow the directions given in verse 14, we have the assurance of verse 15. But what about when we fall short of the goal in verse 14? God’s grace is always available for our return to Him.
I believe that God watches and waits for us, seeking our face with eyes open for our coming and ears listening with hope for the sound of our presence. As I envision that picture, I see the Father in Jesus’ story of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32).
Too often we let our own sin and failure hold us back from God. Satan knows this, and uses our weaknesses and failures against us, leading us to such a sense of guilt that we enter into the condemnation that God tells us we do not have in Christ (Romans 8:1). Satan knows that if he can get us into a spirit of condemnation, he can hinder our ability to commune with and have relationship with God.
Scripture mentions that there is a sin that leads to death (1 John 5:10-21). Now many, myself included, believe this passage teaches that there is sin of many types that can lead Christians, saved by grace, to an-earlier-than-God-desired physical death; sins where we simply will not repent, keep falling to, in which our witness is hurt and our ability to be His light in the earth is dulled. But I also recognize that there is one sin that God cannot forgive, leading to eternal separation from Him. This is the sin I believe this passage teaches us we cannot pray over for another and it be answered apart from their own prayer for deliverance.
I believe that sin we cannot pray for in the place of another’s own prayer is revealed to us through one specific teaching. The only name given in scripture by which we must be saved is “Jesus”, and that requires the recipient to recognize and receive within self the gift of God found in the sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ, on the cross through which He bore all sin. Paying the full price required that we may be saved, all sin is covered by Christ and that saving grace is ready as a gift to be received. Once truly coming under His cover of grace and His Lordship, the proof or our salvation is “in the pudding,” as they say. Lives change when God through Christ truly has our lives, and we will, day by day, little by little, become more like Christ, who came to save those who believe and show us the way of God (Acts 4:12; Romans 10, focal: vs. 9; 1 John 1:1-2:6, focal: vs. 2:1-2).
Now we can pray for people to be open to receiving this gift of grace for themselves, but we cannot accept the gift on their behalf. It can only be received by those who confess with their own mouths Jesus as Lord, and who believe with their own hearts this teaching about Christ’s death as sacrifice and His resurrection as the first fruits of new life to be received by all who accept the gift.
God the Father, desiring us with all that He is, so longed for a relationship with the people of His own heart that He provided through His Son an atoning sacrifice—the final sacrifice ever needed for sin. For all who enter the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, there is no sin so deep, no failure so disastrous that it can keep us from finding God waiting eagerly to receive us. The Father waits eagerly for our renewed and ever deepening companionship, with a robe of righteousness at the ready for our sin-drooped shoulders, and the feast of the Lamb on the banquet table, set and ready to welcome us home.