I Kings 8:41-43:
Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country for thy name's sake; (For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm;) when he shall come and pray toward this house; Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel; and that they may know that this house, which I have builded, is called by thy name.
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We are in a series of messages titled "Praying Through the Bible: A Series on Every Passage and Verse Regarding Prayer in the Bible" to encourage you and to motivate you to pray to the God of the Bible. We highlighted each of these over 500 verses and passages in the new Prayer Motivator Devotional Bible. So far, we have done 17 messages in this series.
This is message #18 titled "Great Expectations" (Part 5). We are continuing our series on Solomon's prayer at the dedication of the Temple in Jerusalem. We have seen how God fulfilled His promise to David and allowed his son, Solomon, to build the Temple for the glory of God. After the Temple was built, Solomon called together all of the children of Israel to celebrate the completion of the Temple and that is the occasion on which Solomon offers his prayer.
In the first message in this series...
1. We looked at the greatness of the occasion and saw how that we should never forget to give God the glory in every situation.
2. We looked at the greatness of Solomon's humility.
3. We looked at the greatness of Solomon's expectations and saw how that we must not be afraid to request great things from God because He is able to do "exceedingly, abundantly, above all that we can ask or think."
In our last message in this series...
1. We saw how Solomon saw the need to pray to God in times when the nation was undergoing judgment
2. We saw how God hears the prayers of his people and is willing to forgive.
3. We saw that God knows the heart condition of every man.
4. We saw that when God restores us, we should not forget the lessons we learned while we were being punished.
Today, we will continue reading Solomon's prayer and look at three more elements that we can draw from it and apply to our own prayer life.
1. Notice how Solomon prays for those who are not a part of the nation of Israel. Verse 41 says, "Moreover concerning a stranger, that is not of thy people Israel, but cometh out of a far country..."
These strangers, are people from the heathen nations around the children of Israel. The Hebrew word for "stranger" literally means "foreigner" or what we would call today an "illegal alien." Solomon cared for these people enough to pray for them in light of the fact that they, too, may try to turn to Israel's God. So Solomon was evangelistically concerned.
Part of the reason why God created the nation of Israel, gave them His law and commanded them to live a holy life before Him is because he wanted the children of Israel to be a light to the heathen nations of the earth. He wanted the Jews to show the rest of the world what it meant to walk with God and be obedient to Him. In Isaiah 49:6 God tells Israel, "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth."
In this era, after Christ's death and resurrection, God has given the church the responsibility of being a light to the unsaved world. Jesus Christ commanded His followers to "let your light so shine before men..." If we let our light shine consistently, those who are unsaved will see that light and will be drawn to it.
We should follow Solomon's example and pray for the unsaved around us. We should pray that they see and hear the message of Christ in all that we do and say. We should pray that they will come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
George Mueller was a man well-known for his powerful prayer life. One day he began praying for five of his friends. After many months, one of them came to the Lord. Ten years later, two others were converted. It took 25 years before the fourth man was saved. Mueller persevered in prayer until his death for the fifth friend, and throughout those 52 years he never gave up hoping that he would accept Christ! His faith was rewarded, for soon after Mueller's funeral the last one was saved.
Just as Solomon prayed for the heathen people around him, and just like George Mueller prayed for the unsaved people that he knew, it is our job to pray for those around us who do not know Jesus Christ. Let's be like the prophet Samuel and say, "God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way."
2. Notice how Solomon is concerned about God's glory. Verse 42 states, "For they shall hear of thy great name, and of thy strong hand, and of thy stretched out arm..." Solomon relished the fact that these foreigners would hear about how great the God of Israel was and about the miracles that He performed on behalf of His people Israel.
When we are praying for those around us who do not have a relationship with God, we should make sure that we are praying for their salvation with the right motive -- are we praying for God's glory, or is there a selfish motive behind our words? In James 4:3, the Bible warns us about praying with the wrong motive when it says, "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss..." The word "amiss" means "improperly or wrongly."
Wives, are you praying for an unsaved husband, but the main reason why you want him to be saved is because you think he will become more submissive to you and your will? Employees, are you praying for an unsaved boss, but the main reason why you want him to be saved is because you want him to pay you more? Are you praying for an unsaved neighbor to get saved only so that he will stop playing his loud, hip-hop music at night?
These are some of the wrong motives that we can have when we pray for the unsaved. However, our main focus in prayer should be God's glory. We should desire for others to be saved so that God's name will be lifted up even more, so that more people will be drawn to Him.
John Piper said, "Prayer is not for gratifying natural desires. It is for fruit-bearing, for the glory of God." In other words, we should focus on bringing forth fruit in our lives and in the lives of others for the glory of God when we pray.
3. Notice how Solomon's purpose in praying is for all people to be obedient to God. Verse 43 states, "Hear thou in heaven thy dwelling place, and do according to all that the stranger calleth to thee for: that all people of the earth may know thy name, to fear thee, as do thy people Israel."
The main reason why Solomon prays for the heathen is so that they will come to know who God is, fear Him, and obey Him as the children of Israel did. This ties in with our previous point. When we pray, our prayer should sincerely be from a God-centered focus. When we pray for our spouses, our children, our co-workers, or our neighbors, we should pray for them to know God for themselves and to begin walking in obedience before Him.
Often, pastors pray for the unsaved so that the empty church pews will be filled on Sunday morning and so that the church bank account will be overflowing once again. This type of prayer is rooted in a selfish desire. Our true desire when we pray for the unsaved should be for that person to come to know Jesus Christ as their Saviour and begin a real relationship with Him for themselves.
We are commanded to pray for the lost because prayer is a powerful way of bringing them to God. Pastor and theologian, J. Sidlow Baxter said, "Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers."
Let's pray as Solomon did for those in our families, in our communities, and in the world, who are foreigners to the grace of God and who have not heard the saving message of God's Son, Jesus Christ.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner's Prayer. Please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God's laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: "For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve permanent punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says "the wages of sin is death..." This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
The good news is found in John 3:16 which says, "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read "What To Do After You Enter Through the Door". Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, "I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture."
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of sixteen books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel's Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor's Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor's degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master's degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3.