King Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple serves as a tremendous model for personal prayers. The prayer is significant because it was given at the inauguration of the Temple – God’s first permanent home which was in Jerusalem.
All other tabernacle’s for God were mobile and all led up to this moment when the son of David, who wanted to build a home for God, was successful in the completion of God’s home in Jerusalem or Mt. Zion. God chose the location of the Temple where He was to be worshipped and He chose the builder.
Thus let’s breakdown King Solomon’s prayer to see what topics he covered in this momentous event:
King Solomon begins with great reverence as he stands at the altar of the Lord where atonement was constantly made for the sins of Israel signifying the location where God and Israel met. As we stand at the throne of the living altar, the Lord Jesus Christ, the place where God and we meet, lifting up holy hands so does King Solomon as directed by the Law of Moses.
22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven.
King Solomon acknowledges the one true and living God and that there is no other and confesses his understanding of God’s character in ‘keeping the covenant and showing loving kindness’ to His people who keep His Word. In the same way we praise the Lord for His covenant with us through His Son and for demonstrating His character towards us.
23 He said, “O Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart, 24 who have kept with Your servant, my father David, that which You have promised him; indeed, You have spoken with Your mouth and have fulfilled it with Your hand as it is this day.
King Solomon, as Moses did, reminds God of His promise. We too remind the Lord of His promise, which exalts His Son, that He hears our prayers and will keep us through the work and purpose of the Lord Jesus. Reminding the Lord of His Word always puts Him in a place of preeminence above us so it is an acceptable form of praise and worship.
25 Now therefore, O Lord, the God of Israel, keep with Your servant David my father that which You have promised him, saying, ‘You shall not lack a man to sit on the throne of Israel, if only your sons take heed to their way to walk before Me as you have walked.’ 26 Now therefore, O God of Israel, let Your word, I pray, be confirmed which You have spoken to Your servant, my father David.
Again, King Solomon extols the glory and power and majesty of the Lord and then says as great as You are yet You hear our prayers. The King asks the Lord to listen to the prayers of his people night and day. Repeating back to the Lord what is evidently stated in Scripture is a means of worshipping Him.
In human terms you could say it’s like a compliment to someone who obviously did a good job; in other words they know they did well but you still compliment them. The same with the Lord: He is great and mighty and He knows it yet you tell Him anyway and you tell him specifically what makes Him great and mighty.
27 “But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this house which I have built! 28 Yet have regard to the prayer of Your servant and to his supplication, O Lord my God, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Your servant prays before You today; 29 that Your eyes may be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. 30 Listen to the supplication of Your servant and of Your people Israel, when they pray toward this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive.
Now King Solomon states specific items he wants the Lord to respond to in order that the King’s people are governed well. There are seven items he mentions; all based in the reality of the life of Israel. This leads us to pray for similar items in our life; the life of the church. When you pray be specific and remember your prayers that concern life on the earth bring glory to the Lord because the prayers are appeals to Him to restore souls separated from Him because of sin.
A prayer to restore a man who sins against his neighbor.
31 “If a man sins against his neighbor and is made to take an oath, and he comes and takes an oath before Your altar in this house, 32 then hear in heaven and act and judge Your servants, condemning the wicked by bringing his way on his own head and justifying the righteous by giving him according to his righteousness.
A prayer to restore Israel when they sin and are defeated in battle.
33 “When Your people Israel are defeated before an enemy, because they have sinned against You, if they turn to You again and confess Your name and pray and make supplication to You in this house, 34 then hear in heaven, and forgive the sin of Your people Israel, and bring them back to the land which You gave to their fathers.
A prayer to restore care, rain, for Israel though they have sinned against the Lord.
35 “When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain, because they have sinned against You, and they pray toward this place and confess Your name and turn from their sin when You afflict them, 36 then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and of Your people Israel, indeed, teach them the good way in which they should walk. And send rain on Your land, which You have given Your people for an inheritance.
A prayer to restore the repentant sons of Israel in all circumstances.
37 “If there is famine in the land, if there is pestilence, if there is blight or mildew, locust or grasshopper, if their enemy besieges them in the land of their cities, whatever plague, whatever sickness there is, 38 whatever prayer or supplication is made by any man or by all Your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart, and spreading his hands toward this house; 39 then hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men, 40 that they may fear You all the days that they live in the land which You have given to our fathers.
A prayer to hear the cries of the foreigner or unbeliever.
41 “Also concerning the foreigner who is not of Your people Israel, when he comes from a far country for Your name’s sake 42 (for they will hear of Your great name and Your mighty hand, and of Your outstretched arm); when he comes and prays toward this house, 43 hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to You, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name, to [l]fear You, as do Your people Israel, and that they may know that this house which I have built is called by Your name.
A prayer for the Lord to be with His people even in battle.
44 “When Your people go out to battle against their enemy, by whatever way You shall send them, and they pray to the Lord toward the city which You have chosen and the house which I have built for Your name, 45 then hear in heaven their prayer and their supplication, and maintain their cause.
A prayer to restore Israel dwelling in foreign lands after the Lord dispersed them because of their sins.
46 “When they sin against You (for there is no man who does not sin) and You are angry with them and deliver them to an enemy, so that they take them away captive to the land of the enemy, far off or near; 47 if they take thought in the land where they have been taken captive, and repent and make supplication to You in the land of those who have taken them captive, saying, ‘We have sinned and have committed iniquity, we have acted wickedly’; 48 if they return to You with all their heart and with all their soul in the land of their enemies who have taken them captive, and pray to You toward their land which You have given to their fathers, the city which You have chosen, and the house which I have built for Your name; 49 then hear their prayer and their supplication in heaven Your dwelling place, and maintain their cause, 50 and forgive Your people who have sinned against You and all their transgressions which they have transgressed against You, and make them objects of compassion before those who have taken them captive, that they may have compassion on them 51 (for they are Your people and Your inheritance which You have brought forth from Egypt, from the midst of the iron furnace), 52 that Your eyes may be open to the supplication of Your servant and to the supplication of Your people Israel, to listen to them whenever they call to You. 53 For You have separated them from all the peoples of the earth as Your inheritance, as You spoke through Moses Your servant, when You brought our fathers forth from Egypt, O Lord God.”
54 When Solomon had finished praying this entire prayer and supplication to the Lord, he arose from before the altar of the Lord, from kneeling on his knees with his hands spread toward heaven. 55 And he stood and blessed all the assembly of Israel with a loud voice, saying:
King Solomon concludes with specific words of praise to the Lord who gives rest, kept His promises and is with us and to incline the people’s heart to keep His ways.
56 “Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to His people Israel, according to all that He promised; not one word has failed of all His good promise, which He promised through Moses His servant. 57 May the Lord our God be with us, as He was with our fathers; may He not leave us or forsake us, 58 that He may incline our hearts to Himself, to walk in all His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His ordinances, which He commanded our fathers.
Finally King Solomon requests the Lord to hear his prayers and lead the people so all the earth will know the Lord is God and there is no one else.
59 And may these words of mine, with which I have made supplication before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that He may maintain the cause of His servant and the cause of His people Israel, as each day requires, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God; there is no one else. 61 Let your heart therefore be wholly devoted to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and to keep His commandments, as at this day.”
King Solomon’s prayer centers on the exaltation of the Lord. This is accomplished through praise and thanksgiving and specific requests regarding the life of Israel as it is lived out under the Law of Moses. Likewise our prayers should center on the exaltation of the Lord through His Son with praise and thanksgiving for His promises and character and specific requests based on living the Christian life under the Law of Christ.