Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Big prayers—old and new - 1

Solomon Dedicates the Temple - James Tissot
Solomon Dedicates the Temple - James Tissot
TODAY'S SPECIAL: 1 Kings 8:22-41

TO CHEW ON: "Yet regard the prayer of Your servant and his supplication, O Lord my God, and listen to the cry and the prayer which Your servant is praying before You today." 1 Kings 8:28

I love how explicit and detailed Solomon is in this public prayer at the dedication of the temple. As he prays about specific concerns of his and the nation's, we get a glimpse into his heart and his perception of how God dealt with the nation.

He prays that:
  • God will be a fair judge of people who take an oath before the temple alter (i.e. swear their innocence in the face of an accusation) 1 Kings 8:31-32.
  • When the Israelites lose their land because of sin,  God will restore it back to them after their confession in the temple - 1 Kings 8:33-34.
  • When there is no rain because of the peoples' sins,  God will hear the Israelites' prayers of confession as they "pray toward this place" and again teach them how to live and send rain - 1 Kings 8:35-36.
  • And he prays, just behind the bounds of today's reading, that when the land is plagued by whatever plague—blight, mildew, locusts, grasshoppers, siege by an enemy—their prayers and supplications will help each see "the plague of his own heart" as they pray toward the temple, and God will "hear ... and forgive and act" - 1 Kings 8:37-39.

What can we learn about life and prayer from Solomon's prayer here? Several things come to mind:

1. Solomon prayed for things that are still concerns for us, only in different ways. We too can pray for:
  • justice in our legal system. We can pray for judges, lawyers, legislators, and that those in political power will enact fair laws and see that they are enforced.
  • national safety and security. For us that might be expressed as prayers for safety from terrorist attacks, from gangs that deal in drugs, from anarchism and riots—anything that would threaten our national security.
  • peace in weather and nature. We can petition God for safety from extreme weather in the form of storms, floods, and forest fires; safety from earthquakes and tsunamis.
  • safety from plagues. For us that might be praying for protection from illnesses for which we have no cure (e.g. cancer), computer viruses and cyber attacks.

2. Solomon attributed the Israelites' times of past and future misfortune to their sin. We don't make that connection much any more, perhaps fearful of being labeled judgmental. But I think there is a connection. We can acknowledge it at least in private prayer, confessing our own sins and the sins of our nation as we let God draw us back to Himself through trouble.

PRAYER: O God, please make me aware of the plague of my own heart. Help me to come to You in confession and accept Your forgiveness. May I fear You all the days of my life. Amen. 

MORE: Confession
"O Lord, I confess my sin to you. In humility I admit my wrong. Against you, O God, and your standards of holiness I have fallen short. I acknowledge the ugliness of my own sin ..." - Ronald A. Beers, 365 Pocket Prayers, day 274 (p. 235).
(Read "Big Prayers—old and new - 2")


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

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