Covenant Words
Covenant Words

Episode · 6 years ago

Addressing God in Prayer (2 Chronicles 6:12-21)

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Rev. Christopher Chelpka

Well, if you're able to, please remain standing and let's gear give our attention to God's word and second chronicles chapter six, second chronicle six, versus twelve through twenty one. Last time we were in this chapter we heard of Solomon's a blessing, the way he was blessed the people by Blessing God. This is all following the construction of the temple. And now we read Solomon Turning in prayer to the Lord and we're going to read the beginning of this prayer. So this is second chronicles chapter six, Verse Twelve Through Twenty One. Then the Lord are then Solomon. Rather then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord, in the presence of all the assembly of Israel, and spread out his hands. Solomon had made a bronze platform five cubits long, five cubits wide and three cubits high, and in set it in the court and he stood on it. Then he knelt on his knees and the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven and said, oh Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven or on Earth, Keeping Covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart, who have kept with your servant, David my father, what you declared to him. You spoke with your mouth and with your hand. Have fulfilled it this day. Now, therefore, O Lord God of Israel, keep for your servant, David my father, what you have promised him, saying you shall not lack a man to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk in my law, as you have walked before me. Now, therefore, O Lord God of Israel, Let your word be confirmed, which you have spoken to your servant, David. But Will God indeed dwell with Man on earth? Behold Heaven, and the highest heaven cannot contain you how much less this House that I have built yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea. o Lord my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you, that your eyes may be opened, day and night toward this house, the place where you have promised to set your name, that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward the plot this place and listen to the please of your servant and of your people, Israel, when they pray toward this place, and listen from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear forgive, you may be seated. When Martin Luther stood before the die of to verms in fifteen twenty one, we know the story. He stood strong before the Lord and his reply to the pressure that the council was pressing on him to recant views that were true to the Bible and true to the Gospel were and are famous. His reply, unless I am convinced by the testimony of the Scriptures or by clear reason for I do not trust either in the pope or in councils alone, since it is well known that they have often aired and contradicted themselves. I am bound by the Scriptures I have quoted and my conscience is captive to the word of God. I cannot and I will not retract anything, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience. Well, this is Martin Luther's famous response, his famous reply in which he stood strong for the Lord. But what is not as well...

...known, or perhaps what is known but forgotten, is the way that this reply. This stand for the Lord Finishes. It finishes with a prayer. There's one more line I didn't read. So Luther says, since it is neither safe nor right to go against conscience, I cannot and I will not retract anything. I cannot do otherwise. Here I stand. May God help me. Amen. Luther's stand for the Lord was also a stand before the Lord. Luther stood not just for God, but he stood before God. And he concludes this stand with a prayer. In an essay by Brian G Naja, before he quotes another author, Martha Martin e Lehman, who's writing on Lutheran prayer, and Mr Lehmann concludes this about Martin Martin Luther. It is clear that his understanding of prayer can in no way be isolated from the totality of his theology. Indeed, it can be said that prayer is an intrigral and significant part of his entire theology. What this author goes on to argue is that to understand Luther's theology, you have to understand how he thought about prayer. Well, this should be true for all of our theology. Thinking about God in a way that is abstracted from a relationship with him turns God into an object to be controlled, as opposed to a being to be loved, serve, feared worshiped. That's why theology has all should be always done in prayer. It should always be done with an understanding towards who we are speaking about, to whom we are concern praying, who it is we are obedience to. Well, tonight our passage teaches us a lot about prayer. It focuses our minds on this, as we see a Solomon lifting up this prayer before the Lord. It is a model of prayer, and in it we also see the theological foundations of prayer, and that's what I want to focus on this evening. God showing us how and why we should pray. So first, the how of prayer, particularly the beginning of prayer. Prayers should begin in a particular way. Now, of course, not always this is true. There are all kinds of situations we find ourselves in and we don't need to follow any kind of rigid system. If we need to say something the little Lord, we should just say it. But there is an appropriate way of framing our lives of prayer, and even particular prayers, and it is the way that Solomon demonstrates here. It is the way that our Lord speaks when he gives us what we call the Lord's prayer. The Lord's prayer begins how, our father who are in heaven, how would be thy name? It begins by addressing God and adoring him for who he is, by considering his attributes. And these are the kinds of things that Solomon does as well. So how should we pray? Let's I want to address this in in four points. First, we are to address God appropriately. This involves acknowledging the one to whom we are praying in a way that fits his nature. How does Solomon do this? Well, for one, he...

...uses his name. He calls him Yah Way. Here it's written in small capital letters in our Bible several times. As Lord, he calls Him Yeah Way or Jehovah. This is God's name that he gave to his people. It is the name that God has given to Moses and to all of Israel and to us to use, to call him by, to address him by. This is echoed not only it's said, not only in the name itself, Yeah Way, but it's echoed in the following phrase that Paul Uses or sorry, Solomon uses, speaking about Paul this morning, a little tongue tied. He says he addresses Yah Way, but then he says God of Israel. It's a way of echoing what that name itself means, that God is not just odd, but he has his particular eye on this people. He loves them, and Solomon has this in mind. He has from the very beginning of his prayer, from the very first words, the relationship with God. Another part of addressing God appropriately, and not only in his titles, is honoring his unique nature. This is another appropriate way to begin our prayers as we address God. So, for example, notice what Solomon says. He says Oh Lord, or Oh yeah, Wagh, God of Israel. There is no god like you. You see what he does. He distinguishes in his mind and he speaks to God in a way that distinguishes him from all other gods. There is none like you. And then he gives some specifics. He says in heaven or on Earth, Keeping Covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants. In this we see Solomon addresses not only his unique nature as being the only one and true God, but also unique in his works. He is God who keeps covenant, who shows steadfast love to his servants. Solomon even focuses in on particular works, which is appropriate for us to do on our prayers, to bring to our mind particular attributes of God, odd to think about who he is, in his uniqueness, in not being an idol but being the one true God, but also thinking about his particular works. So what is Solomon Mentions mentioned? Well, he talks about keeping word with your servant, David, my father, what you declared to him. This is in Verse Fifteen. You spoke with me your mouth and with your hand. You have fulfilled it this day. So this is the way, a good way, a holy way and an appropriate way to begin our prayers by addressing God in a way that is fitting for who he is and what he has done. The second point I want to make and how we should pray is that we should address God not just appropriately or respectfully, but adoringly. When we use these titles for God, when we say our father, who arn't in heaven, we're not just jumping through a hoops. We're not addressing him in a way to kind of check a check a box, like saying Sir to someone that you don't really respect at all. We say these things because this is who god is. We don't just address him in a way that's appropriate. We address him in a way that involves adoration, adoring which is love and and worship. Notice how we see this in Solomon. First of all, I think you hear it in his words, but you also see it in his posture. We read that at the beginning of this prayer he is on his knees, his hands are lifted up to...

...heaven. He is acknowledging him self as one who is low and God, who is high. This great king who has built this great temple, does not have his greatness in mind, but only the greatness of God. As he gets on his knees and he prays, it is perhaps the first act of any true worship to start with wonder, to wonder at the glorious self revelation of God. To pray properly and truly is to stand in awe before him, to consider all his perfections, to take note of his attributes, his selfsufficient existence, his covenant love toward us, and to bow our hearts down before him in love and in worship. Isaac Watts, in his book a guide to Prayer says wisely that, though we are creatures and we stand far off from God, the more that we speak and consider his attributes, the more we realize that this glorious God whom we pray to has worked for us on our behalf. The more we consider these things, the nearer we will feel toward him and the better we will be prepared for confessing our sins, for making requests, for professing our love and forgiving thanks. Well, the third thing to mention that we see in this passage about how we ought to pray is that it is I in the nature and the work of God. It is, or rather it is the nature and work of God, on which we base our requests. In other words, we bring supplications and petitions to this God because of who he is. We learn this from verse sixteen with two words. Now, therefore, Psalomon lifts up the Lord, Oh Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you and Heaven on Earth, Keeping Covenant and Showing Stats Steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart. He mentions the specific covenant with David and, on the basis of all of that, on who God is, and what he does. That's when he says now, therefore, Oh yeah, way, God of Israel, keep for your servant David, my father, what you have promised him saying. And then he says the promise, the promise that David shall not lack a man to sit before God odd on the throne of Israel, if his sons will pay close attention to their way and walk in his laws, as David walked before him. This teaches us that we, when we pray, we base our requests not on our will but on God's will. We base our requests not on the strength of our desires and the things that we want, but on the promises God has made, and we seek him and no other, because there is no other. There is nowhere else to go. There is no other God to save, no other God to speak to, no other God who has promised himself to us in His grace. This is why we go to God and give him and make our requests. We ask of him as our father, because he is our father. Lastly, the other the last thing I want to mention about how we to pray is that all of these things are done the all of...

...these things are done in a way that is humble. You hear this in Solomon's words, you see it in his posture and you notice how he doesn't demand for the things that he asks on the basis of what he wants, but on the basis of God's promises. You could also adverse eighteen to see the humility of Solomon in his prayer. He says, but will God indeed dwell with man on the earth? Behold Heaven, in the highest heaven, cannot contain you, how much less this house I have built. Solomon recognized as though he has built this Glorious House, God's presence doesn't depend on what he's done. Solomon confesses that he knows he cannot control God, he cannot contain God. This is a very different view from the nations around him, where the gods are viewed is as these movable objects, these controllable objects that can be bound to a time and to a place and to a people. Solomon recognizes that he belongs to God, not because he's captured God and brought him into a temple, but that God, who cannot be contained in a place like this, nevertheless has condescended to us and and is present with these people. Solomon pleads before the Lord in Verse Nineteen. Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant. Have regard to his plea. He considers himself a servant. He recognizes that everything that he has from God, anything that he will be given, anything that he asks for, will come only by the grace of God. We add to that one more thing, and that not only does it come by God's grace. In other words, Solomon isn't owed these things, but in fact he is owed the opposite of blessing. We get this from the last few words that we read in Verse Twenty One. He says, Solomon says, and listen from your heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive. Solomon recognizes that he does not stand before the Lord as equals. These are not too equal conversation, partners trading favors. He also recognizes that he has not an unequal partner, as simply a servant who who he can go to and ask things of God. No, he recognizes that not only are they unequal, but that he and the people are sinners in need of forgiveness. And this is true when we approach God, we not only approach him humbly, but we approach him as sinners, as those who need not only good gifts or desire good gifts, but he need forgiveness. In other words, before we can even approach God, before we can even add is can these things, we need to be reconciled to him. That's a part of the true humility which is required in prayer. So here we learn how our prayers should begin, some of the things that they should contain. They should addressed God in a way that is prop appropriate, a way that honors him and his most holy name. It should also be filled with adoration and love and humility, confession and Fort of sin, and all of this relying on his nature, his works and his promises of grace. On the basis of those things, we go confidently before...

...the Lord and we ask him to hear us and to answer us. This is how we pray. Now, why do we pray? What is the foundation that we on which we go to God? Well, one of them we've already spoken of. I'm going to mention two. The first is there is this personal relationship that we have with God. Prayer is a very personal, relational kind of speech and it has a particular flavor to it. When we address various people in our lives, we address them according to that relationship. So you speak to your sister one way, your neighbor another way, your boss yet another way, and the same is true with God. This means that true prayer is built on an understanding and a faith in God. This means that to know him better is to pray better. And what do we learn of God here? What is it? Who is the god to whom we pray? Well, we learn that he's all glorious. We learned that he is a lover of good things, that he has a promise keeper, that he is mighty, that he is powerful, that he has worked in History Making Covenant Promises With these people, that he is poured out His grace on US and calls us to to depend on him for these things. When we go to the Lord in prayer, we go because he truly is. That is why we pray the way that we pray, but, even more basic, it's why we pray at all. We go to God because he's revealed himself to us. We speak and call out to the Lord because he has first spoken to us. The second reason and the last thing I want to mention about why we pray is that there is a kind of covenantal action, a covenant that is established. Prayer, I should say, is a covenantal action. Let me put it this way. I've said that in prayer there is a relationship involved. Right, there's a relationship between us and God. But when we speak of covenant, when Solomon Speaks of covenant, he tells us that we have a particular relationship with him. In other words, God is not just someone we know, or even someone we know well, like a colleague or an acquaintance. He's more like a spouse. We have this obligation to one another, him to us and US to him. We have this agreement, a contract, a promise that has been made, not, of course, because we forced God into it or tricked him into it, but because he's graciously made this relationship with us. And this is what Solomon has in mind when he talks about God as the one who keeps his covenant, and it's what we should have in mind too when we pray to him. We pray to him in the way we do because there are these covenance in place, these this relationship that God has established, and this is our starting place to just as it is for Solomon, except that for us it's even stronger, as strong as Solomon's relationship is with the God, God of Israel, because of the covenants that have been made with Abraham, with Moses, with David. We come to God not only on the basis of these covenant promises, but also on the covenant that he has made with his son and with us in him. We come to the Lord in prayer,...

...remembering not just these covenants in the past, but the new covenant which holds all of them together, which brings all of them into completion. God has answered indeed, Solomon's prayer in the person and work of Christ, when Solomon Praise and ask that know that David would not lack a man to sit on the throne, that God would provide a son of David who would sit on that throne and would stable it and would be established as Israel's ruler forever, as a son who would play close attention to his walk, that would walk in the law of God and walk in holy ways and in the ways of David. We have not only one who has done that, but one who has superseded David in every way, the son that God has provided is not only the son of David, but the son of God. And so when we pray as Solomon was praying, and when we consider the Covenant that God would made with David, we don't have to hope in some future king that might do the things that the Lord Commands, knowing that very possibly he might not and we might all suffer on behalf of that King and his actions. No, we pray knowing that God has provided the final king, the final son. We come into the presence of the Lord, we depend on his covenant promises, knowing that they have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ, the son of David. We pray knowing that Jesus himself intercedes for us at the right hand of the Father in heaven. We pray knowing that Jesus has fulfilled all of these things more than Solomon could have ever imagined or experienced. All of this means that Christian prayer is not a set of techniques or Mantras, nor is it some kind of ecstatic experience that we search for. Nor is prayer some kind of thing that we use to prove our holiness. No, prayer is, as I said this morning, a simply faith in the mouth. It's a verbal expression of the Covenant, in which we stand its knowledge of God as it is revealed in Jesus Christ, and living our lives praying continually in confidence that this vision that God has given to us in his son is one in which we come to know God as perfect as saving, as covenant keeping, as unique in all the universe, and one who uses all of this glory and this power to save you, to grab you into his arms, to fold you into his flock and to carry you to heaven itself and to see it to you with Christ in the heavenly places. Christian prayer is not just speaking with God, but communing with him, trusting him, him knowing him. This is how we pray. It begins by understanding who God is and how he has revealed himself to us, and then responding in faith, in love and in worship. May God grant to us a greater understanding of him that we might pray prayers that are more worthy of his name.

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