Forgive, and deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know the human heart), so that they will fear you and walk in obedience to you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors…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 in Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name. (2 Chronicles 6:30-31,33)
What a beautifully recorded prayer that seems to run the entire spectrum of what we need to be praying for – ourselves, the people of God, protection, provision, the present, the future, the past, the lost…you name it, Solomon covers it. He was praying to call God into the new temple and this prayer is part of the dedication of that space. Ray Stedman, in his commentary on chapter 6, says this about the prayer:
Whether the people were under circumstances of spiritual failure or the punishment of captivity, they were to remember that if they would pray in earnestness—genuinely confessing their sin—God would hear them, heal their hearts, and restore them to their rightful place.
Solomon gives us here a model for prayer – not just what to say, but how to say it. Jesus does the same in Luke 11:2-4, in the Lord’s Prayer. Both prayers teach us what is important to focus on when we talk to God. And when we talk to God like this, our fear – the right kind of fear – is built up. It is not a fear of punishment or evil – but of reverence, respect and belief in the Lord. We are right to fear Him, for He is all-powerful. He is also a loving, gracious Father who wants to care for His children, indeed for all mankind. Jesus came to seek out and save the lost – whether they are part of His kingdom yet or not. As Matthew Henry puts it,
The order of Solomon’s prayer is to be observed. First and chiefly, he prays for repentance and forgiveness, which is the chief blessing, and the only solid foundation of other mercies: he then prays for temporal mercies; thereby teaching us what things to mind and desire most in our prayers. This also Christ hath taught us in his perfect pattern and form of prayer, where there is but one prayer for outward, and all the rest are for spiritual blessings.
When we call on God in prayer, there is no room for fear of anything this world can do. It is in the constant dialogue with Him that we learn what is important. In prayer, we can clearly see those things – like anxiety, stress and worry, which can overtake our senses and make us lose focus. When we seek the Lord where He may be found, we find the healing and restoration we need to not only survive the threats of this world, but thrive in spite of them. It is in that place of living in His goodness that the whole world sits up and takes notice and will learn to call on His name.
Spend time talking with God today. Listen for His voice and learn at His feet.
Heavenly Father – thank You for the simple opportunity to come before You in prayer. I may not always know what to say, so I thank You that words are not required. Thank You for the models of prayer You’ve included in Your word – prayers that teach me how to pray, but also prayers I can pray when I don’t have words. Help me to have patience in listening for Your voice and the courage to seek You no matter what. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Further Reading: Exodus 6, Isaiah 56, Luke 11