In his second sermon of our “Better Than We Think” series, we look at 2 Chronicles 7:14 and unpack the encouraging BIG IDEA: that If God’s people pray, then He will hear, forgive, and heal.
This begs the questions:
1. What does it mean?
2. How does it apply today?
3. What about our land?


Sermon Transcript

Citylight Church, today we are continuing a new sermon series entitled Better Than We Think.

Typically at Citylight Church, we preach through books of the Bible, but during this six-week sermon series we’re doing something a little different. We are learning together from some of the best known and most beloved verses in the entire Bible. Think of them as bumper sticker verses; the verses you’re most likely to see on a car bumper sticker. Though each of these verses are incredibly popular, we rarely have the opportunity to do a deep dive into each one of them. I believe that as we slow down and look in depth at each of these beloved passages of Scripture, we will learn that they are even better than we think.

This morning we are continuing the Better Than We Think series with 2 Chronicles 7:14. 2 Chronicles 7:14, which can be found on page 338. While you’re turning there, when I say that these are bumper sticker verses, I’m being literal. Here is a picture that Joe Benzig, one of Citylight’s pastoral residents took on our way to a conference a few weeks ago the other day. Please stand with me to honor the reading of God’s word.

2 Chronicles 7:14 – “…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 7:14 – “…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.

Earlier this week, I posted this verse on social media and I asked people to share what questions they have about it. Here are some of the questions:

Who are “my people”?
Are there prayers that God does not hear/answer?
Does God only answer our prayers when we are acting righteously?
What does having a “land” look like?
How does this scripture apply to a pluralistic society/land like America?
How do we apply it to the church?
What does humbling oneself look like?
Do we have to force those who don’t follow God to turn away from ways that we believe are wicked but they don’t?

Obviously, there are a lot of questions about what this verse means and how to apply it today, but don’t worry, it’s even better than we think. Let’s begin with the big idea of the verse: If God’s people pray, then He will hear, forgive, and heal. If God’s people pray, then he will hear, forgive, and heal. This big idea raises three important questions that we are going to answer this morning from our verse: 1. What does it mean? How does it apply today? What about our land?


One of the most important principles when interpreting the Bible is to read a verse or verses in their context; their context. You can do that by asking questions like “When was this passage written?” “Who was the original audience?” “What was the original author hoping the original audience would feel, think, or do in light of this verse?” Sometimes a good study Bible like the ESV Study Bible can really help. As we discern the context of 2 Chronicles 7:14, we learn that it was originally written to God’s old covenant people, Israel. In 2 Chronicles 7:14, “my people” is Israel before Christ. And this seemingly simple context observation makes all the difference when it comes to understanding our verse.

Let me explain. Let’s travel back in time about 4,000 years, to about 2,000 BC. About 4,000 years ago, the Lord appeared to a man named Abram. You can read about this in Genesis 12. The Lord graciously chose Abram, though he did nothing to deserve it, and the Lord made an amazing three-part promise, or covenant with Abram: The Lord promised Abram offspring (the name Abraham means “father of a multitude”), land, and a universal blessing (all the nations of the world would be blessed through Abraham’s offspring). Now, fast forward about a thousand years and Abraham’s offspring, the nation of Israel, God’s people are finally in the land the Lord promised to Abraham and living in a time of peace under their greatest king, David. Now, David wanted to build a house, or a temple, where the Lord could dwell with his people. David’s son, Solomon, was the one who actually built the temple where God’s special presence dwelt with Israel. This temple was completed and Solomon dedicated it to the Lord in the passage just before our verse for today. 2 Chronicles 7:1 – As soon as Solomon finished his prayer, fire came down from heaven and consumed the burnt offering, and the sacrifices, and the glory of the Lord filled the temple.

It was from this promised land and through worship at their temple that Israel was to be a light to the nations. But Solomon knew that Israel often failed to do and be what God required in his law and often did not live as a light to the nations. So, when Solomon dedicated the temple to the Lord in prayer, he made this request to the Lord: “When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray toward this place and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, 27 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel, when you teach them the good way in which they should walk, and grant rain upon your land, which you have given to your people as an inheritance” (2 Chronicles 6:26-27). So, as we discern the context of our verse for this morning, we learn that it’s actually the Lord’s gracious response to Solomon’s prayer that the Lord will forgive and heal Israel if they pray and turn from their sins. Let’s read our verse in its context so we can see this: 2 Chronicles 7:11-14 – Thus Solomon finished the house of the LORD and the king’s house. All that Solomon had planned to do in the house of the LORD and in his own house he successfully accomplished. 12 Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. 13 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, 14 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. When he dedicated the temple, Solomon prayed, “Lord, when my people sin and you bring judgment on the promised land, if they turn to you and repent, please hear, forgive, and heal.” The Lord responded, “Yes, Solomon. If Israel will prayerfully repent, then I will hear, forgive, and heal.”

What does our verse mean? In its original context our verse was a promise that the Lord made to his old covenant people, Israel. The Lord promised that when His old covenant people, Israel, brought God’s judgment on themselves through sin, if they will prayerfully repent, then the Lord would hear, forgive, and heal the promised land. That’s what the verse means. This raises our second question and in answering this question we’ll see that though our verse may not mean exactly what we thought when we first read it on the bumper sticker, it’s even better than we think. Second question…


Citylight Church – whenever we read one of God’s promises, no matter where in the Bible we find it, we have the privilege to always ask, how does this promise apply to us? Every promise God has made in his word, including the Old Testament, is a promise to you. Here is how we know the promises are ours: 2 Corinthians 1:20 – For all the promises of God find their Yes in him [Christ]. All the promises God has made are fulfilled in Jesus. Therefore, all of God’s promises are “yes” to those who are in Christ and apply to us today. So, let’s look at the promise that God made to Israel in 2 Chronicles 7:14 and figure out how it is “yes” to us in Christ. 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “…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.

How is this promise “yes” to us? How does this verse apply today? Well, now that Christ has come, who are ‘my people’ or ‘God’s people’? Well, we know that they are not the people of any one nation, like Israel or America. We know that from Jesus’ final words to his disciples after he rose from the grave, but before he ascended to heaven. Matthew 28:19 – Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit… If “God’s people” aren’t the people of any one nation, who are the people of God? Answer: all true believers in Christ. Galatians 3:28-29 – There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. The new Israel, the true offspring of Abraham, God’s people are all true believers in Christ from every tribe, tongue, and nation. Now, God’s people, believers in Jesus, we do not have a land, but we do have a church, the new community of Christ. Citylight Church – we who are in Christ are God’s people.

Now we are ready to answer the question, “how does 2 Chronicles 7:14 apply today?” 2 Chronicles 7:14 – “…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. Application: If believers in Jesus, united in a local church, will prayerfully repent of their sins, then God will forgive their sins and revive their church for his glory. 2 Chronicles 7:14 applied today is a call for the church to repent so that she can be revived and take her rightful place as God’s primary means of establishing his kingdom on earth. Revival in the church begins with repentance by the church.

Citylight Church – Revival comes through repentance. God wants to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine through our church, but God opposes the proud. God gets in the way of unrepentant churches, but he gives grace to churches who humble themselves, prayerfully repent, and turn to God’s ways again. If Citylight Church will humble ourselves and repent, then God will hear our prayer, forgive our sin, and heal our church so that we can be revived to live for His glory in our generation. It’s an ongoing invitation and promise to us. That’s how this verse applies today, it’s a call to our church to repent of our sins so that we can be healed and revived for God’s glory. Q: What is repentance unto life? A: Repentance unto life is a saving grace, whereby a sinner, out of a true sense of his sin, and apprehension of the mercy of God in Christ, does, with grief and hatred of his sin, turn from it unto God, with full purpose of, and endeavor after, new obedience (WSC). How do we apply this verse today? Citylight Church, as we prayerfully repent of our sins and turn back to God, he will hear our prayer, forgive our sins, heal our church, and revive our mission. Repentance is the way of revival and repentance is the way that we take our dignified place in making much of Jesus in our generation. How do we apply our passage today? We repent for the sake of revival. And in a few moments, that’s exactly what I am going to lead us to do as a church. But before we do, we need to answer one last question:


Since 2 Chronicles 7:14 applies today as a call to repentance and the Lord’s promise to revive his church, should we pray for our land? Should we pray that America should repent? Should we pray for God to heal our land? The answer is “yes.” Citylight Church – it’s good and right to love our country and pray for our land. All followers of Jesus should pray at least three things for America:

Pray for America’s welfare

Jeremiah 29:5-7 – “Thus says the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, to all the exiles whom I have sent into exile from Jerusalem to Babylon: 5 Build houses and live in them; plant gardens and eat their produce. 6 Take wives and have sons and daughters; take wives for your sons, and give your daughters in marriage, that they may bear sons and daughters; multiply there, and do not decrease. 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” As followers of Jesus, we are citizens of His heavenly kingdom and exiles in this world. Therefore, we should seek the welfare and peace of our land and what better way to do that than to pray for the holistic peace and welfare of America. This includes praying for our land to be healed.

Pray for America’s leaders.

Now that Christ has come, God does not rule nations directly. Rather, he rules through legitimately established governments. God has given governments a real, though highly limited, scope of authority. 1 Peter 2:14 – “…or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. 1 Timothy 2:1-2 – First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, 2 for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. In addition to praying for America’s general welfare and peace, pray that God will give governing authorities to America that respect His limited role for government: restrain and punish evil, praise and promote what is good. Pray that God will put governing officials in place that restrain what God calls evil and promote what God calls good. Pray that our laws and our land will be increasingly influenced by the moral norms in the Bible.

Pray for revival in America

Pray that Americans of every background and ethnic group will come to saving faith in Jesus Christ. Romans 10:12-15 – For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” 14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”


2 Chronicles 7:14 is better than we think. It’s not only a promise to ancient Israel and prayer in their temple that has nothing to do with us! 2 Chronicles 7:14 is an invitation to the church of Jesus Christ to stop holding onto our sins or hiding them in the dark, but to pray, to seek God by confessing our sins, to turn from our wicked ways that dishonor him, and it’s a promise that Father will hear us because we come in the name of Jesus, and he will revive our church.

Invite band up. Provide instructions for five minutes of repentance
Sins of commission
Sexual immorality
Marital sins
Lying, cheating
Sins of omission
Lack of care for the lost

The Lord’s Supper

Dear friends – pray for America! Example of praying for America: