That verse has been quoted a lot over the years.
In recent years, it's been used as a call to the church in America--as a way to get God to bless us again.
The rationale has been that, Since America was founded on Judeo-Christian principles, and had been blessed by God in tangible and intangible ways, and since we--as a nation--have moved away from God in recent decades, then God is no longer blessing us and that our only hope to return to that blessing is to take the approach that the verse describes.
I think that's right, and I think we'll need to keep it in mind in the near future (not only the next 4 years, but in the coming decade).
But here's the question: Who are "MY people"?
Obviously, in context, that was written to the people of Israel--whom God had selected, in His grace and sovereign will--to be 'His people'. He had repeatedly reaffirmed His intention of being "Their God" while they would continue to be 'His people'. The Messiah--the hope of the world--would come through them.
So, we have to ask ourselves as Americans, 'does this even apply to us'?
I think it does, because I think that, since Christ came, the whole thing has shifted.
Now 'His people' are those who are 'in Christ'. "remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ.
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations...Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone." (Ephesians 2:12-20)
(Is there now a part for literal Israel to play? Yes, I believe there is--but that is another discussion on another day.)
For now, though, we still have to ask the question: WHO ARE "My people"?
Newsflash: I do NOT believe "My People" are the people of America!
God has, indeed, blessed this nation, and has been very involved in our country's history.
However, the country that is America is not equivalent to "My People".
Rather, it is the CHRISTIANS within this country--and every other country--that is "My people", so this verse--and those around it--are targeted toward us!
For the present situation, I think the meaning is this:
CHURCH, Listen Up: Humble yourselves! Pray! Turn from YOUR wicked ways! Seek My Face! THEN watch what I do!
We, American Christians, have bought into the lazy lie which says 'if we just elect the right people, God will bless us'. Not true (although it is important).
This verse--and countless like it--are calling out to US! God's people and the Church in this world--including (but not limited to) America--needs to be about repentance, holiness, prayer, and a humble dependence on God. We need to seek Him more--not as "Americans", but as 'HIS People'!
It is time for US--Christians, especially in America--to get right with Him!
It is time for us to stop compromising with the world around us, and dedicate ourselves to living out our worship in every area of our lives!
It is time for us to repent of our sin, and seek His face.
We--Christians--simply MUST 'humble ourselves and pray'.
THEN what will He do?
I'm not exactly sure, with respect to our nation.
I AM sure, however, what He'll do in the Church!
He'll pour out the Spirit in a new, fresh way and will ignite us within so that we burn with passion for Him. He will lead us to holy lives, and bless us with powerful signs and wonders--and His glory will be revealed again.
The hope of America is not in Washington D.C., no matter who works there.
The hope of America is in the churches throughout our nation which 'get' this message and begin to embrace it.
...and that happens, one believer at a time.
So, Christian...how about it?
Seek His Face
Turn from your wicked ways
THEN (and only then) He will move.
Let's get to it!