Turn and Be Heard[This article is part of the series, Turntables]
It has been an encouragement to read the comments made about the Turntables series this week. The feedback has been great. Some have told me they will refer back to these articles later because they found good exposition in them. What a blessing that is for me to hear. That builds me up. Knowing this series is able to help others affirms this was a successful series. And it’s not even over with yet! Thankful for all the feedback on the series and its teaching.
This article is the final piece of the series. I must admit, it was a stretch for me to publish seven 1000-word articles in a week in addition to the other platforms I write for, but we did it! The challenge was good for me. If I could dream out loud for a second, it would be awesome, I think, to do more series like this. The topics could range. Needless to say, I enjoy discussing theology more than anything else.
To wrap it up, I would like to discuss how prayer and repentance work together. As discussed, repentance is a popular theme throughout Scripture. Prayer is too. Why not bridge the gap and show they even work together? We can easily differentiate prayer and repentance, but they are not far apart. In fact, our repentance directly affects our prayer. Here is one place the Bible agrees.
When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, 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. (2 Chronicles 7:13-14, ESV)
This insight is particularly interesting to me. There’s quite a bit we can unpack here. God says unless Israel turns he will not listen to their prayers. He didn’t just tell his people to pray to him; repentance is involved. In order for Israel’s land to experience restoration they must turn from their sin to God and pray. If not, they can expect to see the heavens remain closed because God will not listen.
Faith is never alone because it is accompanied by works. Likewise, prayer is never alone because it is accompanied by repentance.
Dismissing the humbling part, the turning, and seeking God’s face seems a lot easier. To be honest, this is usually our default. We often think we can just pray now and get to repentance later. But how do you know prayer is enough? In 2 Chronicles, we have a situation where prayer alone wasn’t enough for God to listen. It seems risky to assume we can steer clear without turning at all.
This isn’t just an Old Testament thing either. The Apostle Peter says the way you treat your spouse can affect your prayers. “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered” (1 Peter 3:7). God hates it when husbands treat their wives disrespectfully. He hates it enough to shun them. The whole council of God’s Word teaches that men lead the women. The husband is the head of the household. And when husbands mistreat their wives, he will pay no heed to their prayers.
Furthermore, our faith is relational because God is relational. When our relationships are out of whack, God asks us to come to terms with others before going to him. Jesus said, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift” (Matthew 5:23-24). He cares about us being in good terms with others. He says we’ve got all eternity to hang, so right now, you get right with them. God puts the relationship between us on hold so that we can be right with others.
Are you getting the picture? Our repentance directly affects our prayer life. God is unwilling to listen to people who refuse making changes in their life.
Some may argue, “Well, how much repentance is enough for God to listen to my prayers?” It’s not about having a certain amount; it’s about whether or not you’re heading in this direction. Repentance is not a check-list of sorts; turning is a way of life. None of us possess a perfect or complete repentance. There will always be something for each of us to repent of on this side of eternity. Believing there is a certain amount of repentance to reach is to say there are other sins that don’t really need repented of. All sins need to be repented of, but we won’t reach a perfect repentance. With that in mind, I would submit, for God to hear our prayers, repentance must be an on-going part of our daily walk.
One last Bible passage comes to mind worth sharing. It comes to us from the Apostle James. “Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16). It’s not just that prayer has great power, but the prayer of a righteous person has great power. Again, we clearly see that repentance directly affects our prayers.
This concludes the Turntables series. Every article includes my thoughts about repentance and how it relates to salvation. There’s no doubt that repentance is required of every Christian. Anyone who teaches otherwise is simply teaching false doctrine. I’ve enjoyed crafting this blog series and hope to produce more! Be sure to visit the Partner page and subscribe with your email so we can stay in touch! Feel free to share the content with others. Thank you for helping make my first blog series a success and a lot of fun.
View another Turntables article here.