Praying in the True Temple
A daily devotion for June 23rd
Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication
12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands. 13 Now he had made a bronze platform, five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and had placed it in the center of the outer court. He stood on the platform and then knelt down before the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven. 14 He said:
“Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on earth—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 15 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.
16 “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 according to my law, as you have done.’ 17 And now, Lord, the God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David come true.
18 “But will God really dwell on earth with humans? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 19 Yet, Lord my God, give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence. 20 May your eyes be open toward this temple day and night, this place of which you said you would put your Name there. May you hear the prayer your servant prays toward this place. 21 Hear the supplications 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.
22 “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, 23 then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty and bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.
24 “When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you and when they turn back and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication before you in this temple, 25 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to them and their ancestors.
26 “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, 27 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.
28 “When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when enemies besiege them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 29 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel—being aware of their afflictions and pains, and spreading out their hands toward this temple— 30 then hear from heaven, your dwelling place. Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart), 31 so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.
32 “As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm—when they come and pray toward this temple, 33 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.
34 “When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to you toward this city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 35 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.
36 “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 the enemy, who takes them captive to a land far away or near; 37 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 captivity and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong and acted wickedly’; 38 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their captivity where they were taken, and pray toward the land you gave their ancestors, toward the city you have chosen and toward the temple I have built for your Name; 39 then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their pleas, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you.
40 “Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel and spread out his hands.2 Chron 6:12
2 Chronicles 6:12-40 records the great prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the temple in Jerusalem. This is a unique prayer from the Old Testament. It is, perhaps, the only passage in the Old Testament that is a report of a formal prayer uttered on a great state occasion. The whole nation — or at least a great portion of it — had gathered in the courts of the temple to dedicate the new building that Solomon had erected according to the plans that his father David had drawn.
The nearest thing we would have to this scene in America today would be the Inauguration of a President. Like our Inauguration, on this occasion a special platform had been built for the king in the great courtyard of the temple, in front of the brazen altar, where the sacrifices for sin were offered. On that platform King Solomon began this prayer with a recognition of God's promise to David, his father, that there would never lack a man to sit upon the throne of Israel.
Solomon's prayer consists of eight wide-ranging requests which concern the temple and the place of prayer in the life of the people of Israel. Though these requests had specific applications to the people of Israel, they have specific application in our own lives as well. For instance, the Jews were to face the temple when they prayed, no matter where they were in the land. This has a specific application to us. In the New Testament we are told that our bodies are the temple of God. This is a truth that is often missed today. It is very hurtful when Christians refer to buildings as the
house of God. The New Testament never calls any building the
house of God. Church buildings are not the houses of God — we are. Everywhere in the New Testament the answer to the temple of the old regime is the human body and our personal lives. We are the habitation of God, by the Spirit. When we gather, the whole place becomes the temple of the living God; God dwelling among his people by the Spirit.
That is what makes our coming together a recognition of the presence of God in our midst. Jesus said that when two or three of us gather, he is in our midst (Matthew 18:20). What makes a church meaningful is the recognition that we gather as the temple of the living God. Considering this, the prayer of Solomon's becomes a marvelous teaching ministry on the place and the power of prayer in our lives.
Father, I pray that I may become a person of prayer, learning to communicate with the God of Glory, and finding in the place of prayer with other believers the answer to the personal needs that afflict us day by day.
Life Application: When we are in Christ, he is in us -- we are his temple! Are we awakening to the awesome intimacy with Christ available in this relationship? Have we begun to grasp that prayer is therefore ongoing communication with the One in whom we live and breathe and have our being?
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