WORD STUDY – PRAY פלל
II Chronicles 7:14: “If my people who are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked way, then will I hear from the heavens and will forgive their sin, and heal their land.”
II Chronicles 12:7: “And when the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the Lord came to Shemaiah saying, They have humbled themselves, therefore I will not destroy them…”
I am sure we all know II Chronicles 7:14 by memory. It is quoted so often, especially when we have a national day of prayer or the pastor calls a special season of prayer. But do we really stop to consider just what this passage is talking about? Without taking away specialness of this passage that we and myself find to be very precious, I would like to consider the context and examination of certain words to see if we can find some even deeper truth buried in this verse that is not apparent on the surface.
First let’s consider the context of this verse. Israel was living in a wicked way which brought famine into the land. There was no rain. The word wicked here is ra’a.’ This is one of those “ra” words which mean evil. This ra word has two Ayins. Hence this is a wickedness that comes from a brokenness as a result of abusing one’s office or power through greed and covertness. It is using God’s blessings to parlay that into a means to acquire more at the expense of others. This could be a governmental power or even a power in ministry or financial power. Years ago a famous TV evangelist was caught red handed giving $20.00 to a prostitute in return for her services. I wonder how many of his contributors thought: “Was that my $20.00 that I sacrificially gave, that I could have used to pay my electric bill? Was that my $20.00 that fell into the hands of this prostitute?” For whatever motive, the contributor gave his $20.00 to God, he consecrated it to God, he most likely prayed over it as he sent it in and it ended up in the hands of a prostitute.
That is why I do not solicit contributions. I am so haunted by how I would use that money for my own personal benefit realizing that is was a sacrifice on the part of a brother or sister. So, ok, those of us in ministry really have a duty of good stewardship, but how about us as individuals. Did not God give us our jobs? Does He not provide our health to go to that job, does He not give us wisdom to do our jobs? Then we spend that blessing from God to purchase things that will abuse our bodies, attend or purchase movies that will take our focus off God? Or use that gift from God for something that is just not in harmony with Him. That is ra’a.’ That is the evil of Israel, abusing the blessings God gave them and so God had to take it away until they repented and realized from Whom all blessings flow.
So now we have the problem what was the solution to re-opening the windows of heaven and turning on that faucet of blessing? In this context the word heaven does not mean the celestial city our future home. Here the word is hashamyim which is in a plural form and has a definite article and grammatically should be rendered as the heavens which represents the sky. Next we see: “If my people who are called by my name…” Name, shem means one’s reputation. If this nation calls themselves a nation of God Jehovah and uses their prosperity to oppress others rather than feed them, to fund abortions, and hedonistic pursuits, the world will say: “Then this is what God Jehovah is all about.” Can you blame God if He wants to withdraw His blessing to save his reputation?
These people are to humble themselves. The word humble here is kana. This is where the word Canaan comes from which means a merchant or prosperous city. Now you have to realize there are many words for humble. You have daka which is a humility by being broken. One who goes through a hard time and realizes his dependency is on God alone. There is shuwach which is just a display of humility such as bowing down. In oriental cultures when one greets a stranger they give a little bow, this is a shuwach, a protocol, a physical demonstration of humility whether it is heart motivated or not. Then there is shapher which is similar to it’s Aramaic cousin sh@phar which is a spirit that is humble. This is a heart expression of humility. Finally we have the word kana. That is the word used here, which is a humility by a voluntary surrendering all our resources to God. Sort of like being pinned down in a wrestling match and crying : “Uncle.” Actually crying “Uncle” in surrender is a misunderstanding. Originally it was to cry “humble” or “I surrender.”
So the command to humble ourselves before God is to simply surrender all our resources or what is left of our resources to Him. But soft, we are told to pray and seek God’s face or presence. Isn’t that the same thing? The word prayer is palal. It is spell Pei which represents the mouth or speaking and two Lameds which are like hands reaching up to heaven. Rabbis teach that the two Lameds are uplifted hands. We speak to God with uplifted hands. You Lexicons will say it means supplication. We generally consider it as just talking to God. It is all that but the word palal in its Semitic root means something more, it means a notch in a tent peg. A tent peg holds the tent down to the earth, but without that notch the tent will just slip away from the peg. When that tent attaches to the little notch in the peg it will stand against the storms. We are that tent peg, seeking to bring the tent or God to earth. We are His connection to earth, but He will easily slip away from us if we do not have a little notch, prayer, for Him to wrap Himself around. When the people are called to pray they are called to wrap God around themselves.