Hear Our Prayers.
“May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.” – 1 Kings 8:30 NLT
In this recalling of Solomon’s dedication of the Temple, we are given a word-for-word account of the prayer Solomon offered up to God on that solemn occasion. We are told that Solomon prayed this prayer with his hands upheld as he kneeled in front of the altar of the Lord. He had just built a magnificent structure, a testimony to the greatness of God. This impressive building was intended to be the house of God – His literal dwelling place. But even Solomon knew that no man could build a building big enough or grand enough to contain the God of the universe. He stated, “Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built!” (1 Kings 8:27 NLT). Solomon’s God was bigger than Solomon’s Temple. And Solomon knew that his Temple, his kingdom and the people of Israel were hopeless and helpless if God did not continue to fulfill His promises and keep His hand on them. So Solomon prayed. He begged God. And the one word he repeated over and over as he prayed was, “hear.” He wanted to know that God was going to listen to the cries of His people. Solomon was wise. He knew human nature. He knew that a Temple alone was not going to make the people of Israel obedient and sin-free. The sacrificial system had yet to produce a perfect people. So he went to God and begged Him to be available during those time when the people sinned, turned their backs on God, or found themselves in desperate circumstances. Solomon leaves nothing to the imagination. He gave God scenario after scenario – countless examples of situations in which the people might find themselves calling out to God for help and mercy. When they were wrongly accused. When they suffered defeat at the hands of their enemies due to sin. When they find themselves in times of drought. When they suffer the effects of a natural disaster or calamity. When foreigners hear of the greatness of God and call out to Him. When they need help during times of war. When they sin and find themselves exiled to a foreign land.
It is almost as if Solomon knew exactly what the people of God were going to do in the years ahead. They would sin. They would find themselves at war. They would encounter diseases and disasters. They would end up in exile. And much of it because of their own sin and stubbornness. So Solomon, knowing the sinful nature of man, begged His God to never stop hearing the repentant prayers of His people.He wanted to know that, whatever happened, God would be there to hear from and respond to the people when they called out to Him. And over in 2 Chronicles we have God’s condition for His response: “Then one night the LORD appeared to Solomon and said, ‘I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or I might command locusts to devour your crops, or I might send plagues among you. Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and heal their land. I will listen to every prayer made in this place, for I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be my home forever. My eyes and my heart will always be here. (2 Chronicles 7:12-16 NLT). God wanted prayers mixed with humility, brokenness and repentance. He wanted to know they were sorry for their sin and serious about changing. And God wants the same things today. God still hears. But He wants to hear sincere prayers prayed from sincere hearts. He wants repentance not remorse. God hears, but He also perceives. He knows the difference between a prayer prayed from a broken heart and one prayed to simply to get out of a circumstance of brokenness. God hears. But what kind of prayers does He hear His people praying today?
Father, may we learn to be broken over our own brokenness. We are going to sin. We are going to let You down. We are going to do things that break Your law and Your heart. May we learn to cry out to You in repentance, not remorse. May we long to be forgiven more than we long to be released from whatever pain or difficulty we find ourselves in. Give us the capacity for praying prayers of sincerity. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men