God’s Life-Giving Word of Prayer
2 Chronicles 6:12-31: Today’s reading is the first part of Solomon’s prayer of dedication of the Temple. In his prayer, Solomon acknowledges God’s faithfulness and the fulfillment of God’s promises. He asks God to hear his prayers and those of the people.
[Solomon] prayed, “LORD God of Israel, in all heaven and earth there is no god like you. You keep your covenant with your people and show them your love when they live in wholehearted obedience to you.”
(1 Kings 8.22-53)
12Then in the presence of the people Solomon went and stood in front of the altar and raised his arms in prayer. ( 13Solomon had made a bronze platform and put it in the middle of the courtyard. It was eight feet square and five feet high. He mounted this platform, knelt down where everyone could see him, and raised his hands toward heaven.) 14He prayed, “Lord God of Israel, in all heaven and earth there is no god like you. You keep your covenant with your people and show them your love when they live in wholehearted obedience to you. 15You have kept the promise you made to my father David; today every word has been fulfilled. 16 Now, Lord God of Israel, keep the other promise you made to my father when you told him that there would always be one of his descendants ruling as king of Israel, provided that they carefully obeyed your Law just as he did. 17So now, Lord God of Israel, let everything come true that you promised to your servant David.
18 “But can you, O God, really live on earth among men and women? Not even all of heaven is large enough to hold you, so how can this Temple that I have built be large enough? 19Lord my God, I am your servant. Listen to my prayer and grant the requests I make to you. 20 Watch over this Temple day and night. You have promised that this is where you will be worshiped, so hear me when I face this Temple and pray. 21Hear my prayers and the prayers of your people Israel when they face this place and pray. In your home in heaven hear us and forgive us.
22“When people are accused of wronging others and are brought to your altar in this Temple to take an oath that they are innocent, 23O Lord, listen in heaven and judge your servants. Punish the guilty ones as they deserve and acquit the innocent.
24“When your people Israel are defeated by their enemies because they have sinned against you and then when they turn to you and come to this Temple, humbly praying to you for forgiveness, 25listen to them in heaven. Forgive the sins of your people and bring them back to the land which you gave to them and to their ancestors.
26“When you hold back the rain because your people have sinned against you and then when they repent and face this Temple, humbly praying to you, 27O Lord, listen to them in heaven and forgive the sins of your servants, the people of Israel, and teach them to do what is right. Then, O Lord, send rain on this land of yours, which you gave to your people as a permanent possession.
28“When there is famine in the land or an epidemic or the crops are destroyed by scorching winds or swarms of locusts, or when your people are attacked by their enemies, or when there is disease or sickness among them, 29listen to their prayers. If any of your people Israel, out of heartfelt sorrow, stretch out their hands in prayer toward this Temple, 30hear their prayer. Listen to them in your home in heaven and forgive them. You alone know the thoughts of the human heart. Deal with each of us as we deserve, 31so that your people may honor you and obey you all the time they live in the land which you gave to our ancestors.
What is included in Solomon’s prayer? How would you describe his prayer? How would you describe your own prayer life? In what ways do you experience a covenant relationship with God?
Lord God, in your home in heaven, you hear us when we pray. Trusting in your forgiving love, I offer you my repentant heart. In your holy name, I pray. Amen.
Those who lead prayer circles
2 Chronicles 6:32-42: Solomon continues his prayer on behalf of the people.