“Solomon… knelt and spread out his hands toward heaven, and said, ‘O Lord, there is no God like you, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart… Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you! Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O Lord my God… Listen when [we] pray… and when you hear, forgive…
“’If your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and they turn again and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you, then hear and forgive the sin of your people… When heaven is shut up and there is no rain because they have sinned against you, if they pray and acknowledge your name and turn from their sin, when you afflict them, then hear and forgive.., and grant rain upon your land…
“’If they sin against you… and are carried away captive to a land far or near,.. and turn their heart, saying, ‘We have sinned and have acted perversely and wickedly,’ if they repent with all their heart and with all their soul… then hear.., and maintain their cause and forgive your people who have sinned against you. Now, O my God, let your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayer of this place…’
“Then the Lord said to [Solomon]: ‘I have heard your prayer… When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command the locust to devour the land, or send pestilence among my people, if my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.'” 2 Chronicles 6:13-14,18-19,21-21,24-27,36-40; 7:12-14
Solomon recognized and valued the blessing of the LORD. He knew this transcendent, holy God had in grace set His affection and favor on Israel, and chosen him to lead. Before the people, he reverently bowed and sought God’s continued help, knowing there would be times of failure. Would the Lord please, if Israel turned back from sin, forgive and restore?
His God was both upright and merciful, just and compassionate. He knew from his father that God did not harbor anger forever or despise a broken and contrite heart, so he appealed to Him on both the basis of His grace and the condition of His people’s sincere repentance. The Holy One heard, and gave His promise. The Heavenly King’s word in response to this earthly king’s plea could be trusted. (Psalm 51:1-4,17; 103:8-14)
We can always appeal to our Lord’s immutable character and love, and stand fast and confident on His word. Yet His condition to us is that we be willing to have Him search us to reveal and extricate the unholy in our core impulses. This beautiful interdependence brings about bold prayer and clear answers that exalt the Lord. (Psalm 51:7; 139:23-24)
How committed are we to exercising this utter, urgent dependence on God in prayer? Do we realize that the health and revival of our nations depend on our genuine contrition and unequivocal trust?