“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice.” 2 Chronicles 7:12
However, in times of trouble, difficulty & sickness we can be tempted to think and ask that question! Is anyone there? In Deut 28:23 it says “The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze [giving no rain and blocking all prayers], and the earth which is under you, iron [hard to plow and yielding no produce].” AMP. This verse makes it clear there will be seasons like that, so the present one is not a unique experience and can feel like our prayers only reach the ceiling!
So in the light of 2 Chronicles 7:12 our experience seems to contradict Scripture and we’re befuddled, confused, disheartened, even Scripture appears to be at odds too! Sometimes in desperation we turn to 2 Chronicles 7:14 and process our feelings, frustrations, possible anger (?) by trying to “humble” ourselves before God, but still nothing appears to change.
If we step back a chapter to 2 Chronicles 6:12-ff we read Solomon laying out his heart before the Lord. He prays for himself, others, his nation, all the bases are covered – nothing left unsaid. In 30 verses Solomon calls on God “to listen/hear” over 10 times but not only listen but also “see”! Solomon was asking God to come and not only fill the Temple but be present to answer the prayers of His people.
We know that the original Temple, made with hands, was a three dimensional picture of God’s intention for man to be the “Temple of God” by the Holy Spirit.
When Paul addresses the Athenians he says – “He is the God who made the world and everything in it. Since he is Lord of heaven and earth, he doesn’t live in man-made temples,…”. Acts 17:24 NLT. In 1 Cor 3:16. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?”
So if God was willing to come to the original Temple to dwell and answer prayers there how much more so when He comes and resides in us by the Holy Spirit?
Paul goes on to say in Acts 17:28 “For in him we live and move and exist.” Once we accept Christ, we have this most extraordinary relationship with God! We not only host God Himself but our whole lives are inextricably linked to His. So we can be certain that we have His attention and focus – He cannot but hear and see us, we’re that close. Truly up close and personal – there’s no social distancing with God, hallelujah!
There’s no social distancing with God, hallelujah!Geof Cole
Having been reassured by Scripture that He is close and attentive how do you and I address that question of Him being present and attentive to our prayers?
Over the past 9 months, many Christians and non-Christians have been asking lots of questions about Covid 19. Millions of prayers, desperate cries, pain and suffering endured as the result of the pandemic. We may begin to feel doesn’t God care, hear or see our distress and why doesn’t He answer us? Many of us through our own personal experience have not seen prayers answered in the ways we expected or if truth be told wanted.
Solomon concludes Chapter 6 with this ‘song’:-
“And now arise, O Lord God, and go to your resting-place, you and the ark of your might. Let your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation, and let your saints rejoice in your goodness. O Lord God, do not turn away the face of your anointed one! Remember your steadfast love for David your servant.” v41-42
In earlier postings I’ve talked about the “If” and “When” of God and I think it’s key to look at God’s response to Solomon’s prayer. The Lord promises He will answer but there’s no mention of timescale! Our responsibility is to posture ourselves to receive His answer when He has deemed it the right time, “kairos moments” are ordered by the Father and they are always for our good. Solomon is positioning himself and the Nation for God to answer prayers by staying in intimate relationship with Him.
The enemy cannot frustrate or change the timing of the Lord, but he can attempt to cause us frustration and doubt on the efficacy of God’s timing. He does not always initiate “the trouble” but he certainly will do his best to exploit it!! And longs to see us abandon our trust in God, lose focus in our one true hope and cause a break in our relationship with Him.
In times of trouble, sickness, hardship and loss etc we have a choice – whether we trust God and rejoice in His presence and goodness or not. Just before Moses goes to be with his Father he gives his final preach in Deut 30 onwards and in 30:19 “…… I have set before you life and death, blessings and cursing: therefore choose LIFE…..”.
We have choices to make, and not all easy ones but we’re encouraged to choose LIFE and the source of our life is in God by the Holy Spirit. Access to Him is through worship and prayer with the full assurance that God hears our prayers and sees our circumstances 2 Chronicles 6&7.
“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13 ESV
There is someone there when we pray, our Father has promised that and He is attentive to our prayers, sorrows, joys, pain, wholeness – Scripture says:-
“…casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]. Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour. But resist him, be firm in your faith [against his attack—rooted, established, immovable], knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being experienced by your brothers and sisters throughout the world. [You do not suffer alone.]”. 1 Peter 5:7-9 Amplified Bible
Not even the enemy believes our prayers only reach the ceiling, that’s why he will do his utmost to “persuade” us that that thought is true!
Our family, friends, neighbours and ourselves need us to be steadfast in the hope and assurance that God gives us. Are we going to free from “trials and tribulations” unfortunately not, but we have the God who cares for us:-
“God is our refuge and strength [mighty and impenetrable], A very present and well-proved help in trouble” Ps 46:1 AB
Are we going to free from “trials and tribulations” unfortunately not, but we have the God who cares for us!Geof Cole
The whole Psalm is a great comfort too! But I conclude with the last two verses of this heartwarming, reassuring and trustworthy description of our God!
“Be still and know (recognize, understand) that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations! I will be exalted in the earth.”
The Lord of hosts is with us; The God of Jacob is our stronghold [our refuge, our high tower. v10-11
Be blessed – ‘the ceiling’ is not a barrier to the Father’s presence.