Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Big prayers—old and new 2

Solomon's Temple
Cutaway rendering of Solomon's Temple - Artist unknown

TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Kings 8:37-53

TO CHEW ON: "Then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and give to everyone according to all his ways, whose heart You know (for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men)." 1 Kings 8:39

Solomon continues to bring to God his requests for the temple in his prayer of dedication. In our reading today he prays:

  • For the personal revival of the Israelites, and that their focus on God and His temple will help them recognize the plague of their own hearts and return to God  - 1 Kings 8:37-40.
  • That foreigners coming to pray toward the temple will come to know and fear God - 1 Kings 8:41-43.
  • That God will "maintain the cause" of the Israelites going to battle as a result of their prayers - 1 Kings 8:44-45.
  • That when the Israelites are defeated (because of their sin) and taken into captivity, they will turn from sin and God will, even in their exile, "maintain their cause" - 1 Kings 8:46-49.

Again we can adapt Solomon's prayers to our own.

As noted yesterday, we can recognize and confess our sin ("the plague of our own hearts") and pray for personal revival.

We can pray for the foreigners in our lands. The nations of the world with all their faiths have come to us. They are often our neighbours and colleagues, the parents of our kids' friends. We can reach out to them in friendship, invite them to church and pray for their salvation.

We can pray for our own battles. As Christians find themselves increasingly at odds with society—because the Bible's standards clash with the shifting sands of our country's laws—we may ourselves become exiles of a sort, scorned by our peers and even put in prison for our beliefs.

We can pray for our own prodigals, and the general lukewarmness in the church: "… Your people who have sinned against You and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You" - 1 Kings 8:50.

When we find ourselves burdened with all that that we face, instead of fretting and worrying we can, like Solomon, lay our requests before God, dedicating ourselves to His purposes. For we are each a mini-temple—people through whom God wants to share Himself with the world (1 Corinthians 3:16-17; 6:19-20).

PRAYER: Dear God, thank You for Solomon's wide-ranging prayer. Help me to take my concerns to You instead of worrying and trying to bear them myself. Amen.

MORE: "Toward this place"

Several times in this prayer, Solomon refers to the Israelites praying "toward this place." It seems they actually bowed or knelt facing Jerusalem when they prayed. Barnes' Notes on the Bible give this brief explanation of the custom:

"The choice of Jerusalem as the place seems to have been made by special revelation to David. See Psalm 78:68; Psalm 132:13; and compare 1 Chronicles 22:1.
Toward this place …. Wherever they were, the Jews always worshiped toward the temple" - Barnes' Notes on the Bible, 1 Kings 8:29


The Holy Bible, New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. - Used with permission.
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