Solomon’s Prayer at the Dedication of the Temple
Questions to Consider
1. Are you familiar with what is going on in the history of Israel and in the life and reign of Solomon at this time? If not, use this synopsis (or another Bible Book Background) to bring you up to speed. Second Chronicles 5-7 are provided in today’s passage for context and continuity. First Kings 7:51-9:9 recounts the same prayer and events we’ll be looking at in 2 Chronicles 6-7, and is provided as optional, supplementary reading. Today’s questions pertain only to Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the temple and God’s response to his prayer in 2 Chronicles 6:12-7:3 and 7:11-22.
2. Briefly explain the recent event in Israel’s history that led to Solomon’s prayer and God’s response, and describe the venue and surroundings in which Solomon offers his prayer. Was this a private prayer or a public prayer?
3. What did Solomon’s body posture (6:12,13) indicate to himself, to God, and to the people as he prayed? Why is it important to present ourselves humbly and reverently to God when we pray, especially when leading others in prayer?
4. Let’s give a broad outline to Solomon’s prayer. What is the main focus of Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6, in each of these sections:
Examining each of these areas of focus, what would you say is the main focus of the whole prayer? Think about the prayers you’re familiar with in the New Testament as well as the way we pray today, individually and corporately. How much time do we spend pleading with God to hear and answer our prayers? Why do you think that is? Can you think of any New Testament passages that speak to the issue of God hearing and answering our prayers? Which of these areas of focus from Solomon’s prayer do we still include in our prayers today? What attributes of God does Solomon shine the spotlight on in his prayer?
5. In 6:16-17, especially with the phrase, “confirm Your word,” Solomon seems to be saying (reverently, of course), “God, You have promised X. We are holding you to that promise.” Does God need to be reminded of, and held accountable by us, for what He has promised? If not, what is the purpose of praying back to God what He has previously promised and asking Him to keep His Word? (Wouldn’t it be against God’s nature and character to break His word?) What does it do for us and in us, individually, and for/in God’s people, corporately, to pray His Word back to Him and ask Him to confirm it?
6. In 6:22-39, Solomon’s prayer follows the format of, “If _____ happens, then God, please do _____.” How does this format echo the and respond back to the terms of the Mosaic covenant under which Israel lived at this time? Briefly summarize each scenario Solomon presents as well as what he asks God to do in response:
Why is sin a major theme of these scenarios? Do you see a common thread running through the way Solomon asks God to respond to each of these scenarios?
Since Christians are no longer under the Mosaic covenant but under the covenant of grace, how would our prayers differ from this section of Solomon’s prayer? What are some themes we see in this section of Solomon’s prayer that are still appropriate for New Covenant prayers by Christians?
7. Remember the climate (spiritual, geopolitical, cultural, etc.) of Israel at this time. Why would Solomon bring up things like future war, famine, and sin in his prayer? Do you ever pray about your future sin or about calamities that could happen in the future? What do you ask God to do if/when those things happen?
8. In his prayer, Solomon several times mentions God’s people praying “toward this place” (the temple). Does he mean this literally – that the Israelites must physically position their bodies toward the temple in Jerusalem when they pray in order for God to hear them similarly to the way Muslims must face Mecca when they pray? What does it mean in a spiritual sense for the Israelites to “pray toward this place”? Does this have any application for Christians today? How do we, in a sense, “pray toward this place” this side of the cross?
9. Does God respond to Solomon’s prayer corporately (7:1-3), privately/individually (7:12) or both? What did God do in 7:1-2 in response to Solomon’s prayer? These actions were God showing His answer to Solomon’s prayer. How would you put into words what God was saying by His actions in answer to Solomon’s prayer? Was God pleased with Solomon’s and the people’s prayer? How did the people react to God’s corporate response? (7:3)
10. In 7:12-22, God answers Solomon’s prayer privately, individually, and verbally (instead of with actions). Compare God’s answer with the requests Solomon had made in his prayer. Does God answer Solomon point by point, or summarize? What are each of the themes of Solomon’s prayer that God addresses? What does God include in His answer that Solomon didn’t pray about? How do 17-22 apply to Solomon individually, and Israel corporately? What can we learn about the nature and character of God from His answer to Solomon?
•Thus far in our study, we’ve mostly been looking at private prayers offered by individuals. Solomon’s prayer is a public, corporate (Solomon leads the people, and the people pray along with him) prayer. What are some of the differences between public and private prayer? Between praying one on one with God and leading others in prayer? What are some elements of prayer you would include or not include in a public prayer versus a private prayer? Is there anything unbiblical about preparing for, or writing out, a public prayer you’ve been asked to deliver? Why or why not? Think about leading a group (your family, Bible study class, etc.) in prayer, and write out the prayer you would lead them in.
•Many American Christians believe that 2 Chronicles 7:14 is a promise to American Christians from God. Now that you have studied the context of this verse, how would you kindly and gently explain to a friend who believes this, the true meaning of this verse and that this verse is not a promise to or about America?
•Additional Resource: Properly Praying the Promises
Suggested Memory Verse