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1 Kings 8:22-61

Wednesday, 17 March 2021

“And now, O God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.” -1 Kings 8:26

Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple at Jerusalem is at the centre of our reading today. The Temple stood as a testimony of the fulfilment of God’s promise to his father David. As Solomon comes before the Lord with a grateful heart, he places a few requests before the Lord. Solomon used the Hebrew word “hear” 14 times in this prayer but he did not ask God for something outside His will.

Two buckets met at a well one day. One bucket had a big smile on its face. The other had a big frown. “Why are you frowning?” asked the happy bucket. “Oh, no matter how full I am when I leave the well, I always return empty,” complained the sad bucket. “And why are you always smiling?” asked the sad bucket.

The other said: “No matter how empty I am when I come to the well, I always leave full.”(Adapted) People spend more time asking God and praying for what they do not have than thanking God for what they have. Prayer is not coveting God’s favours, but affirming God’s promises and counting our blessings. Solomon’s attitude of gratitude to the Lord, God of Israel, in his prayer, was a step in the right direction. He never presumed that he was godly or deserving. He acknowledged that his father’s blessings were passed on to him, rather than succeeding on his own merit or worthiness. God showed loving-kindness to him because his father followed the Lord wholeheartedly (v 23). Affirming what God had promised his father was enough for Solomon and God accepted him. Solomon’s trust in the forgiveness of God. Forgiveness is never cheap. The Hebrew word for “plea” or “favour” occurs seven times in Solomon’s prayer, more than any person’s prayer in the Bible. Even though Solomon petitioned for God’s mercy, he did not ask God to look the other way when God’s people sin but to look their way only if they turn to Him for forgiveness. Solomon did not entreat God to change or lower His standards for His elect. He asked God to forgive them when their repentance was sincere, heartfelt and truthful, not when convenient or hypocritical. Solomon prayed that no matter how stubborn Israel’s sins were, how many their enemies were and how starved the land was, God would hear the prayer of a penitent, repentant heart and a changed person. Solomon also prayed that God’s glory and fairness may be evident and shown to all the peoples of the world, regardless of Gentiles and unbelievers. Here we see Solomon not only championing the rights of foreigners that were already in the Mosaic Law, but praying and interceding for them. He asks the Lord to listen to them as well. He states the intention: “In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do.” (V.43 NLT)

Prayer is not asking God to lower Himself to our level, but taking steps to raise ourselves to God’s standards. In prayer, God doesn’t come to terms with man but man comes to term with God. Have we reduced, lessened and diminished His honour? Are you submitting to God unceasingly your requests or submitting yourself and your life to His will? Do you pray for God’s justice upon all—the rich, poor, saints, sinners, the repentant, the foreigner? Let us today pray that our hearts will be loyal to the Lord and we will walk in His way.

Thought for the Day:

In prayer it is better to have a heart without words than words without a heart.

~John Bunyan

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