“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today.
“Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.’ And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.
“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. May your eyes be open toward this temple night and day, this place of which you said, ‘My Name shall be there,’ so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray toward this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.
“When anyone wrongs their neighbor and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.
“When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.
“When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray toward this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.
“When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands toward this temple — then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
“As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name— for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.
“When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the Lord toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
“When they sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy; for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.
“May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, Sovereign Lord, brought our ancestors out of Egypt.”
- 1 Kings 8:23-53
“While working on the Student Bible my colleague and I made a selection of great prayers of the Bible, which can be read in a two-week period, one prayer per day. Some are intimate and private while others were delivered in a very public setting. Each gives an actual example of a person talking to God about an important matter and teaches something unique about prayer:”
- Philip Yancey, Prayer: Does it Make Any Difference?
I will be intermittently away from the keyboard for much of many of the days for about two weeks. I had been praying about what I could write during this period, or for this period. I try to stay a few days ahead in my writing, but with my cataract surgeries, and – confession time a little laziness – along with the heavy doctor visit schedule, I was writing my posts just in time. (Pardon the typos, if there were any. Really my biggest problem is changing verb tense, at will, throughout paragraphs, and within a sentence as Yancey does in the quote, but homonyms and blatant typos do exist after several reviews.) I had just read Yancey’s book, and I thought of his list of prayers. The chapter on Prayers in the Bible had started with the Lord’s prayer, gone to the Psalms as a whole, and included a general discussion on the prayers of Paul in his various letters. Then Yancey lists fourteen prayers after the paragraph above. The thought of this list struck me. Then when I re-read the page in the book, the words ‘two-week period’ struck me. Rather than the Holy Spirit striking me out with a third strike, I decided to write a few ideas – maybe some really short posts – for each prayer. I will copy the Yancey quote and this paragraph for each of the fourteen, so if you read every day, you can skip this with the remaining parts.
This is Solomon’s Prayer to Dedicate the Temple.
If we overlook the tone of the prayer – essentially the quintessential politician’s prayer, we can get some irony, from an historical perspective, and some interesting theology.
There is a great deal said in the prayer about Old Testament theology, in that the people will come there to pray after they have sinned and then been punished. This is mostly due to the Old Testament sacrifice system’s method of dealing with past sins. It never deals with a single sacrifice cleansing us from all sin, past, present, and future, as Jesus did on the cross. But oddly Solomon says nothing about sacrifice, he speaks of prayer.
I mentioned a few days ago about the Jew’s focus on place. They had to go to the temple to talk to God. Yet, Solomon switches early in the prayer from an initial reference to God’s dwelling place being the temple to God in His heavenly dwelling hearing the prayers made at the temple.
As for the irony, repeating the promise of God that if the king remained faithful to God, the line of David would remain on the throne. Solomon himself was unfaithful late in his life and the kingdom was split upon his death. Actually, Jeroboam rebelled during the reign of Solomon but was repelled (1 Kings 11:26-40) and exiled in Egypt. He gained the support of the northern kingdom of Israel upon Solomon’s death.
The one bit of bitter irony is Solomon’s plea that when the people are returned from exile (already foretold by Moses if they turned from God), that they would have the temple when they returned, a location for prayer to God. The temple and the walls of Jerusalem were destroyed. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah go into their struggles to rebuild for the return of the exiles.
God answers ‘yes’ and ‘no,’ even in corporate prayers for the entire people.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.