In Solomon’s dedicatory prayer over the Temple in 1 Kings 8:22-53 he asks God to “hear from Heaven” eight times. In each case it is in regards to a person, persons, or the nation confessing their sin, turning from it, and imploring God to have mercy and act on their behalf.
While the whole prayer is incredible, verses 46-51 are especially eye-opening:
“When they [Israelites] sin against you—for there is no one who does not sin—and you become angry with them and give them over to the enemy, who takes them captive to his own land, far away or near; and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their conquerors and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly’; and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you toward the land you gave their fathers, toward the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offenses they have committed against you, and cause their conquerors to show them mercy; for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.
While the United States has not been conquered and taken captive by our enemies as of yet, it’s as if Solomon was praying today for our country. We have indeed acted wickedly towards God in our nation. We have ousted Him from most aspects of our society and thumbed our nose at His moral absolutes – abortion, gay marriage, doctor assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, pornography, sex outside of the marriage covenant, divorce, dishonesty, greed, etc. In our cowardly political correctness, we congratulate and champion wickedness, and condemn those who hold to biblical standards of righteousness. And it seems to be getting worse every day.
And what about the church? The church in America has lost its way. Jesus is no longer the cornerstone, and has been replaced by programs, pragmatism, a lust for popularity, pop entertainment, compromised teaching and preaching, and a counterfeit holiness. The church is no longer the light that shines the truth of Jesus to a dark world. Sadly, many in our culture look at the church as totally irrelevant to life in our society. How far we have fallen!
What can change this? What can reverse the growing darkness of evil and anti God thought in our land that seems to be progressing at an alarming rate? Solomon, in the verses quoted above has laid out God’s masterful blueprint for how things can turn around.
“…and say, ‘We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly..”. First we must confess our sins. Confession literally means to “say the same word”,i.e. to agree with. We must fall on our faces before our holy God and agree with Him that we, each one of us, and our nation, has fallen short of His holy standards. No more sweeping our sin under the rug, rationalizing it away, or blaming others. It’s time, with brutal honesty, to be transparent, to humble ourselves before Him, and to acknowledge our failures before our holy God.
“…and if they have a change of heart…and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul…” Confession is a great place to start, but it is not enough. We must also repent. Repentance means to have a change of direction, which means that we must not only confess our sins, but also take whatever action necessary, even if it means radical action, to get to the root of our sin and obliterate it from our lives. It means to hate our sin because it grieves our holy God, and to have no desire for it in the future. Notice Solomon said “with all their heart and soul”. True repentance originates from deep in the recesses of our souls and is seen in our actions. Half hearted repentance is no repentance.
“… and pray to you …” After confession and repentance from the heart, we must then cast ourselves on God’s mercy, humbly asking for His forgiveness and to, once again, bless us with His presence. All great revivals in history were brought about when a remnant of God’s people fell before God in deep, fervent, desperate, urgent prayer. Prayer is the catalyst for revival. As Solomon dedicated the Temple, the main theme was prayer (it is mentioned no less than 25 times in his dedication), which tells us that while the sacrifices and rites were important in the temple, prayer would be the key. So too with the church. Preaching, teaching, worship, and outreach are vital parts of our churches, but prayer is the power that ignites these ministries to be glorifying to God and fruitful in their results .
“…then from heaven, your dwelling place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. And forgive your people…” While revival is a sovereign act of God, when we humble ourselves and cry out to Him, we have confidence that He hears us, and our hope is that He sends a life changing and culture transforming revival in our midst. We first cleanse our hearts and then trust that our prayers are pleasing to Him and that, from His holy throne in Heaven, He hears us (i.e: responds to our cries for forgiveness and to our pleas for revival).
What a phenomenal dedication prayer by King Solomon. Read the whole prayer over very carefully and meditate on it, deeply digging out the poignant applications for us today. My friend, we live in dark times and the darkness is spreading thicker and thicker in our nation. Only a powerful move of God in an authentic revival will save us. Will you be part of the remnant and humble yourself, confess your own sin and the sin of our nation, repent with all your heart, and cry out to God for mercy? He is our only hope. If the United States continues on its present path, we face the tragic consequences of God’s judgment. If we don’t confess, repent, and cry out to Him for mercy, is our fate going to be like that of ancient Israel, who was conquered by a foreign nation and taken captive? It’s time to cry out with a sense of utgency.
Oh Sovereign Lord, HEAR US FROM HEAVEN!!