Can Prayer Fix This? (1 Kings 8:31-51)

Prayer - young man.jpg

1 Kings 8:31-51

In the wake of the 2015 San Bernardino mass shooting, the New York Daily News ran the headline, “God Isn’t Fixing This,” on its cover page. The article criticized certain politicians for asking for prayer following the shooting, saying, “prayers aren’t working.” The headline led to the #GodIsntFixingThis movement.

Some of the sentiment of the article is understandable. People felt certain politicians were using prayer as a guise for dodging the issue; some may have been. However, the movement made an unfair implication. It implied that prayer and action were two separate unrelated options.

At the dedication of Solomon’s Temple, King Solomon of Israel offered a prayer (1 Kings 8). However, unlike the speeches often given at building dedications, his prayer is void of the pomp and circumstance expected at such an occasion. Every one of his seven prayer requests had to do with sin or calamity (1 Kings 8:31-51). Solomon understood that his people would inevitably sin and that calamity would befall the nation. The newly constructed temple was a sign to God’s people. It would represent his presence with them. It was a sign that they could turn to God in confession when they succumbed to sin or calamity struck. No less than twice in this prayer, Solomon uses the Hebrew word we translate “heart.” For Solomon prayer was a matter of God’s people aligning their hearts with God heart, that the totality of their being would turn to him. Prayer was not simply a quick fix; it was a demonstration of dependence on God.

Even if we were to enact stricter gun laws – and maybe we should – we would still only be treating the symptoms of a problem. Why is there such a sudden increase in mass shootings in our country? I can only think that it is an issue of the heart. Why is teen suicide on the increase? Why are people turning to opioids at an alarming rate? Why do approximately one in five American adults suffer from mental illness in a given year? Our material prosperity often masks other problems. Prayer is about admitting that our hearts are indeed in need of restoration. It is about admitting that we don’t have all the answers and solutions. When we pray, we humbly ask God to take our unfaithful, tattered hearts and restore them.

How have you been trying to fix your problems through your own wit and fortitude alone? How might you better demonstrate your dependence on God through prayer?

 

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