March 10, 2003

LifeWay Explore the Bible Series for March 23

Solomon's prayer exhibited his trust in God
___bluebull I Kings 8:1-9:9
___By Jim Perkins
___Madison Hills Baptist Church, San Antonio
___"Pray without ceasing"--a Pauline injunction easily heard but followed with great difficulty. How nice it would be to find guidance in how we should pray. Perhaps we would be well advised to turn to the prayers of Solomon in 1 Kings 8 to understand the vitality brought to prayer when we pray according to the promises of God in his word.
___Affirm God's faithfulness
___The temple had been completed for 11 months when Solomon called the nation together for a time of worship in order to dedicate the temple to the Lord. The dedication also coincided with the Festival of Tabernacles, thereby providing a natural gathering time and place for the people (8:1-2). For additional information and details concerning the worship service, see 2 Chronicles 5:12-13, 6:13.
___Solomon's leadership in the public worship service can be divided into three parts. First, Solomon addressed the people (8:15-21), expounding upon God's faithfulness in keeping his promises to David and the nation. Second, Solomon prayed to the God who had kept his "covenant of love" with his "servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way" (8:23). This God who "with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled" (8:24) is the faithful God "keeping his co
venant love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commands" (Deuteronomy 7:9). Third, Solomon blessed the people of Israel, challenging them to remember the faithfulness of God to his promises and of their need to remain obedient to the decrees of the Lord (8:56-61).
___The obvious and major theme in this section of 1 Kings, then, is the covenant faithfulness of God to David, Solomon and the people of Israel. His is a faithfulness we will be wise to affirm even today!
___Pray in accord
___with God's promises
___Solomon based his confidence, and then built his prayers, on the faithfulness of God to his promises. In 8:25-26, the king prayed according to the promises God had made to David (2 Samuel 7:12-16).
___One promise was that although David would not live to see the day, his son would build the temple in Jerusalem. Second, God also promised he would establish the royal line of David, a dynastic succession unavailable to Saul. This was to be a dynasty founded on God's faithfulness, demanding obedient servants, destined to last through the ages and ultimately fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
___Prayer based on the promises of God has been exercised through the ages, and it would behoove us to do likewise. At the same time, however, we must be careful to base our prayers on the general promises of God to all people (believers) in all times.
___Contrast, for example the promise of 1 Kings 17:9, 14 (a promise to a specific person for a specific time) with the promises of John 14:3 and 1 Corinthians 10:13 (promises for all believers).
___Trust God to answer
___Solomon the great planner and builder also was a man offering honest assessments. Indeed, as great as the temple might be, it did not and could never control or contain God (8:27). The temple was not to be used as an idol, but only as a physical symbol and central worship site. The people, however, were to remember God is loving and faithful, approachable and personal (8:27-30). He will meet the people and hear their supplications wherever they might find themselves (8:30).
___One of the times the people would find it necessary to approach God would be in personal prayers for forgiveness. How appropriate it was, then, that Solomon prayed fervently for the Lord to hear the nation's supplications for forgiveness--and perhaps the king also used the occasion to instruct the people concerning their prayers of confession and God's faithfulness to answer them (8:31-53).
___The blessing Solomon spoke to the people of Israel (8:55-61) offers one of the most poignant pictures in 1 Kings of the relationship between God and his people. Solomon had proclaimed God faithful and trustworthy to remember his promises to Israel. Now, as Solomon turned and looked out over the people, he could not help but ask the Lord to bless the people with his watchcare and to turn their hearts toward him in faith and obedience (8:56-59). Solomon also trusted God to use the faithful obedience of his people in the midst of a covenant relationship to serve as a witness to all the peoples of the world (8:60-61)--what a prototypical missionary prayer!
___Questions for discussion
___bluebull Following the model of Solomon's prayers (e.g., 8:23-24), upon what should we base our prayers?
___bluebull What additional guideline for our prayers is offered in 1 John 5:14?
___bluebull We have spoken of prayers based on "promises to all people for all times"--have you found these promises in the New Testament? Look to John 16:33, Romans 10:13, 1 Corinthians 10:13 and 1 John 5:14-15 for an appropriate sampling.

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