Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Lord, Hear Our Prayer

The Old Testament reading for this week is Solomon's prayer dedicating the newly constructed Temple in 1 Kings 8:22-53. As I read over it, I realized that even though this prayer was prayed specifically for the Temple and the people of Israel, it is a prayer that the Church would do well to imitate today. Below is my own paraphrase of this passage as a prayer for the Church. It is not meant to be a precise parallel to the passage. It is only meant to be an example of how Solomon's prayer might serve the Church today.

O Lord, the God of Israel, the God of the Church, there is no one like You in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and lovingkindness to Your servants who walk before You with all their heart. You are the God who kept your promises to David that his descendants would sit on the throne of Israel as long as they walked in your ways. So also may your promises to David's descendant, your Son, Jesus Christ be confirmed in your Church.

Is it really possible for God's own Spirit to dwell among us, mere human beings? Behold, heaven and even the highest heaven cannot contain You, how much less this feeble church building which we have built or these feeble bodies in which we live! In spite of our feebleness Lord, have regard for the prayers of Your servants and our supplications. O Lord my God, listen to the cry of Your people and to the prayer which Your servants pray before You today; that Your eyes may be open toward this people whom you have made Your home night and day, toward the people of whom You have said, "My name shall be there," to listen to the prayer which Your servants shall pray in this place. Listen to the supplication of Your servants, Your Church, when they pray in this place; hear in heaven Your dwelling place; hear and forgive.

If one of us sins against our neighbor and we then we promise to make things right and we come to this house and repeat that promise before You and God's people, listen from heaven and act accordingly. Judge and reveal any wicked way in us. Vindicate us when we act in accordance with Your righteousness.

When Your people suffer loss and defeat because we have sinned against You but we then turn to You again and confess Your name and pray and make supplication to You in this house then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your people and bring us back to the place of faith which you gave to our spiritual mentors.

When the heavens are shut up and your showers of blessing cease because we have sinned against You but we then pray in this place and confess Your name and turn from our sin when we are afflicted by You, then hear in heaven and forgive the sin of Your servants and Your Church. Indeed, teach us the good way in which we should walk and soak us with Your showers of blessing once again.

If there is shortage of food among us, if there is disease or injury, if there is economic downturn, if there is job-loss, if there is war, if their are political rivalries, whatever plagues us, wherever anyone is in need, whatever prayer is made by one of Your people or Your people as a whole, all of us knowing our own afflictions and our desparate need for You, hear that prayer in heaven, Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all his or her ways, for You alone know the hearts of all people. May we live with respect for Your righteous judgments and live in the faith of those who have journeyed this way before us.

Even Lord, those who are not a part of this congregation or this denomination or this nation, even those who do not call themselves Christian, even those who do not know you, even those who are considered religious outsiders, when they hear of Your great power and Your great mecry and they pray to you, hear them! Answer their prayers so that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and reverence You as we do. May they know that you have built up the Church, Your people who are called by Your name.

When Your people go to battle, whatever kind of battle it might be, and we go into that battle prayerfully following only Your lead and not our own, then Lord hear our prayer and sustain us in the cause that You have given us.

When we sin against you, for we know that we are not without sin, and You are angry with us and deliver us over to the destructive forces of our world so that we live in exile from Your Holy presence, if in that exile we repent and pray to You in the midst of our captivity, if we return to You with all our heart and with all of our soul and we pray to You, then hear our prayer and our supplication in heaven, Your dwelling place, and forgive us of our sins against You and forgive our transgressions and make us objects of Your compassion just as you did when you brought us up out of our slavery through our Lord Jesus Christ, who is our Exodus. May Your eyes always be open to the prayers of Your people. May You listen whenever we call upon You for you have set us apart for Your holy purposes as Your very own inheritance by the redemption and liberation that comes through the life, death, and resurrection of Your Son Jesus Christ, in whose name we ask all these things. Amen.

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