The Absence of Prayer

“Let your heart therefore be wholly true to the Lord our God, walking in his statutes and keeping his commandments, as at this day.” – 1 Kings 8:61 (ESV)

The above verse is one of my favorites in the Old Testament and the culmination of a great benediction by King Solomon. In the first eight chapters in fact of 1 Kings we see some shining examples of prayer by Solomon. He asks for wisdom from God as he takes the throne in 1 Kings 3, which greatly pleases God, and then Solomon continues by blessing God in the early part of 1 Kings 8 all the way through his exhortation to the Israelites to remain faithful to God near the end of this chapter. But after that, the Bible is silent on Solomon’s prayer life…

Although Solomon had not asked for riches or wealth from God, it pleased God to give Solomon both during his life. “I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days.” (1 Kings 3:13). But it seemed that after his great prayers and pleadings in chapter 8, something turned within Solomon’s heart. He gets a visit from Queen Sheba in chapter 10, who had heard of Solomon’s greatness and had to come witness it for herself. During her visit, the Queen tells Solomon, “Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report that I heard.” (1 Kings 10:7). I wonder if it was at this point that Solomon turned from focusing on wisdom to focusing on his prosperity ? He is then visited by many other people from all over, who bring him expensive gifts and Solomon collects large quantities of gold and thousands of horses and chariots. Obviously his housing was not small either. Then in chapter 11, he makes another wrong turn by marrying foreign women. And nowhere in these last chapters of his life do we find accounts of his prayers. The absence of prayer in Solomon’s life at the end speaks volumes.

One thing I am not for sure is a prayer warrior. This is a spiritual discipline that I’ve been particularly poor in during my short time as a Christian. Philippa over at Mental Reflection wrote an excellent post this week on this very same thing, and it kind of jogged my memory to go back and look at Solomon again. Similar to Philippa, I don’t know what the answer is. Is there a shortage of books on prayer ? No. Don’t we have great examples of prayer in the Bible to guide us ? Of course we do. John Piper says we should look at prayer as a “wartime walkie-talkie” to communicate with God. I like that analogy. But still, why is this so lacking in my own life ? Why is it so difficult ?

Solomon started out as a great man of prayer, with humble requests and seemingly constant communication with God. But “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” (1 John 2:16, NKJV) then seemed to get in his way. I need to take another good, hard look at what’s standing in the way between me and the constant communication with God that Solomon was such a model of early on as king.

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