Lord , the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it—as it is today. (1 Kings 8:23-24 NIV)
Praying in the life of the believer is essential. There is so much to explore about prayer on the personal and corporate level. The eighth chapter of 1 Kings has an epic prayer that is worthy of thorough meditation and contemplation.
It is epic for good reason. David’s heart after God had compelled him to have in mind a house fitting for the presence of God. The tent situation didn’t suit him while he had his palace. If he was sorted, how much more should the presence of his precious God also be suitably housed. Though it would not be his project to fulfil it would be a suitably epic undertaking for the son who would rule in his place. So it turned out to be as King Solomon invested seven years into constructing the glorious facility for the God of his father.
For such an epic undertaking a similarly epic celebratio was in order on its completion and dedication. On this occasion it is great to know a record of the prayer made by the king was kept in the records for us to peruse.
As Solomon addresses God, His concern is not primarily about the physical structure. His concern is for the purpose of the structure – namely as a focus for the Name that had defined the people of Israel. For all the priestly functions that would take place in the structure, Solomon was concerned that it should be a focus and centre for people’s prayers. It’s a touching point wherever they were to remember who they were and whose they were.
Solomon’s prayer did not cover contingency in the sense of ‘just in case something happens’. Solomon knew enough about the people and their history to know future failings were inevitable. Yet the concern was for the covenant keeping God to forgive and restore when the people realised their failings and turned to God. That degree of concern shows how Solomon also had a shepherd’s heart for the welfare of those in his care. This prayer was about the Name and the covenant relationship that urged God to remain faithful even in the faithless nature of the people.
A particularly fascinating part of the prayer is for the foreigners. Here the point is not all about when Israel messes up. It’s about as God continues to be true through His people His fame spreads and not just the fame of the Name but all that goes with it. An invitation for people all around the world not just to be attracted to the centre but take the Name and character to those places so that the central focus will have a greater reach. This prayer is as much about reaching the utter ends of the earth as it is about the centre.
This is just the tip of the iceberg of a magnificent prayer from which we can learn so much about the purpose of prayer personal and collective. Indulge in the prayer and see how it can impact the centre of your life with its far reaching impact for the glory of the Name.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden