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One of the most theologically-heavy prayers in the Bible is Solomon’s dedicatory prayer at the consecration of the temple. This prayer in 1 Kings 8:12-21, 23-61 is the second-longest in Scripture. Only Nehemiah 9:5-38 is longer.

Solomon’s prayer professes God’s omnipresence and omniscience (1 Kings 8:27, 39). It recognizes the universality of humanity’s sin and need of redemption (1 Kings 8:46). In his prayer, Solomon also acknowledges Israel’s role as a witness to the Gentiles (1 Kings 8:41-43). It foresees all the calamities that will come upon Israel for breaking God’s covenant – including drought, crop failure, famine, foreign invasion, and exile (1 Kings 8:35-53). And even though Solomon’s prayer pleads for God’s presence to dwell in the temple, it acknowledges that heaven itself is God’s true habitation (1 Kings 8:30, 32, 34, 36, 39, 43, 45, 49).

But most dominant in Solomon’s prayer is his request that the Temple will function as the conduit of communication between God and His people. Solomon presents seven different hypothetical situations – largely based on the curses Moses warned Israel about in Deuteronomy 28:15-68. He thinks of every conceivable crisis in which God’s people may find themselves. And for each of these scenarios Solomon prays that if Israel will turn to Him and “pray toward the Temple,” that God will hear and answer.

First, Solomon pleads that whenever court is held in the Temple, that God will hear and send forth His decision (1 Kings 8:31-32). Second, whenever Israel is defeated in battle and they call out to God, praying toward the Temple, that God will hear and help (1 Kings 8:33-34). Third, whenever Israel suffers times of drought because of their disobedience to God’s commands and they pray toward the Temple, he asks that God will hear them and send rain (1 Kings 8:35-36). Fourth, whenever God sends famine or plague on account of Israel’s sin, if they pray toward the Temple, may God hear and answer their prayer (1 Kings 8:37-40).

Fifth, Solomon foresees a time when foreigners hear about the God of Israel. He asks that, should they come to Israel and pray toward the Temple, that God would respond to them (1 Kings 8:41-43). Sixth, Solomon envisions crises when Israel’s armies must travel beyond their borders to fight an enemy nation and cannot go to God’s appointed place of worship. Therefore, he asks God to listen to the prayers of the army whenever they spread their hands toward the Temple in Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:44-45). And, finally, Solomon anticipates the very worst of circumstances, when Israel breaks God’s covenant and is sent into exile to a foreign land. So he pleads with God to hear the prayers of His people whenever they spread their hands toward the Temple from a distant country (1 Kings 8:46-53).

But did Solomon’s prayer establish the Temple as the only conduit of communication between God and His people? In the very next chapter, God assures Solomon that He has heard his prayer and that He will cause His presence to dwell there perpetually (1 Kings 9:3). And the prophet Daniel, who had numerous visions from God, took Solomon’s prayer very seriously. From the distant city of Babylon, he opened his windows toward the Temple and prayed to God three times daily (Daniel 6:10).

However, the prophet Elijah did not consider Solomon’s prayer as prescriptive or binding for worship and prayer. In his own prayer-life, Elijah appears to be oblivious to the Temple as a conduit of communication between God and His people. In 1 Kings 18, Elijah builds an altar of his own to God, offers a sacrifice (which God accepts), and prays directly to God (which God answers, 1 Kings 8:30-40).

And, in the very next chapter, when Elijah feels the deep need to speak with God face to face, does he go to the Temple in Jerusalem? No. Elijah bypasses the Temple altogether and travels all the way to Mount Horeb/Mount Sinai (1 Kings 19:1-14).

Could this God-sanctioned variation of approaching God contain an application for the Christian believer? Think about it. The members of Christ’s body generally fall into two categories: “Liturgical Christians” and “Non-Liturgical Christians.”  Liturgical Christians tend to see their way of worship as representing the orthodoxy. They adhere to the Ordinances of the Church and the ancient liturgy as God’s ordained way of conveying grace to the worshipper and hearing their prayers.

Non-liturgical Christians, however, believe that strict adherence to the Ordinances of the Church (some of which they do not consider ordinances) as the only conduit of communication and grace to be stifling. They view it as an inhibitor to intimacy with God. Which group is right?

As God met with both Daniel and Elijah in powerful and vibrant ways, cannot God meet with both liturgical and non-liturgical Christians in equally powerful ways? I believe God can – whenever true faith in God is exercised by both groups of Christian believers.

This truth will become all the more relevant as the shadow of persecution falls over the universal church. As Christian believers of all convictions become the target of hatred, they need to renew their allegiance and loyalty to Jesus alone. They need to find strength from unity with all who love the Lord Jesus Christ.

“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all” (Ephesians 4:1-6).


PRAYER:  Dear Father in heaven, please prepare me for heaven, where all of Your children will dwell together in love and harmonic worship of You. Fill my heart with the love of Jesus for all people. As the days before His coming grow darker, help me to renew my allegiance to Your holy Son and my love for all who call on His name. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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