1 Kings 8:22–24, 27–28, 38–39, 43comment (0)
December 9, 2010
By Jay T. Robertson
Related Scripture: 1 Kings 8:22–24, 27–28, 38–39, 43
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Studies, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
WHY PRAYER DESERVES PRIORITY
1 Kings 8:22–24, 27–28, 38–39, 43
The early church prayed 10 days, preached 10 minutes and 3,000 people were saved. The contemporary church prays 10 minutes and preaches 20 minutes, and we’re surprised when anyone gets saved. We go to the supper room and organize, while the early church went to the upper room and agonized. What was fundamental then gradually has become supplemental today. May God help us realize we cannot do anything without Him. We not only need sound theology but we also need “sacred kneeology.”
Because God Is Faithful (22–24)
At the heart of all prayer is a conviction about God. That is why biblical prayer begins with adoration of God. The God to whom we pray is incomparable: “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you.” We must pray on the basis of what He has chosen to reveal about Himself, not on what we like to imagine about Him. The God to whom we pray is also loving and faithful. This means we pray on the basis of His promises. That is why Solomon built his prayer around what God had revealed about Himself in history and His Word. In verses 25–26, he prayed God’s words back to Him. This is an excellent strategy for every Christ follower to imitate. He also reminded himself that God had set a condition upon the fulfillment of His promises. A condition of answered prayer is that we are in a right condition before God to receive His promise. We pray because God is faithful.
Because God Listens (27–28)
Solomon connected prayer to the temple, the unique place on earth where God had placed His glory. He had no illusions about the temple, however. It may have been a glorious building from a human perspective, but God cannot be contained in one building. He created space and filled it with His own being and yet He overflowed it. “Will God indeed dwell on the earth?” Clearly not, in any literal sense, since the heavens cannot contain Him. Yet God had promised: “My name shall be there.” The omnipresent Lord of the universe had committed Himself to the temple. Solomon demonstrated a balanced theology. God’s presence was in the temple. His eyes were open toward the temple. He heard prayers made in or toward the temple. But God was not, in any way, restricted to the temple in Jerusalem. Solomon set up a pattern of prayer. Prayer would be made either in or toward the temple. This pattern of prayer, physically directed toward Jerusalem and the temple, became the standard practice of faithful Jews (Ps. 138:2; Dan. 6:10). The temple was the house of prayer. Christians today pray “in the name of Jesus.” There is no single building on earth made with hands where God has put His name. We pray because God listens to prayer when it is prayed in Jesus’ name.
Because God Responds (38–39)
This passage recognizes the importance of every individual worshiper’s prayers. Individuals’ prayers mattered in the Old Testament. Abraham’s prayers saved Lot’s life (Gen. 18:22–33; 19:29). Moses successfully interceded on Israel’s behalf after the golden calf incident in Exodus 32–34. Elijah ended a drought in 1 Kings 18. The individual not only represents himself but also humanity and all of Israel. Solomon hoped that such people always would be heard. No matter how bad things may get, the situation will never be hopeless because God is a God who hears His people when they come to Him as He requires. And He will not only hear but also forgive and restore. We pray because God responds to the effectual fervent prayer of His people.
Because Everyone Can Pray (43)
Solomon’s prayer recognized God’s wider purpose in His dealings with Israel, namely, that as Gentiles see Him working in and through Israel, they might desire to know Him. Solomon desired that even the foreigner, as he or she humbly prayed to Israel’s God, would experience answered prayer. He also desired all the peoples of the earth to glorify God by knowing His name and living in accordance with His character. We pray because everyone can pray when they come to the Father through the Son.