Often we pray and ask God to do this or do that, give me this or give me that. Sometimes we'll ask him for things like "traveling mercies" when we're about to depart on a journey that we believe could hold some danger. Sometimes we'll ask him to give us a lower electric bill in the heat of the summer. Still other times we may ask God to help us with a relationship - make it "work out" (which means make the other people meet my expectations).
But did you ever wonder what God wants us to pray? Jesus gave us a model in what is commonly known as the Lord's prayer. Many religious people try to put it into some acronym that can be easily remembered. You know - things like adoration, thanksgiving, confession and supplication ("ACTS"). I'm not really sure I know what that means. And even though I've dissected the Lord's Prayer with the best of them, I have to say I don't usually remember any of those prayer guidelines and helps when I'm on my knees pouring out my heart to God.
But I notice something about prayer. God's men pray powerful, impactful prayers. The prayers of great men (and women) in the Bible, for example, tended to be life-changing. Some of them were even world-changing. Now that's the kind of prayer template I want! So what did they pray for?
I'm studying King Solomon right now. He was King David's son. Quite a writer and lover, he is famous as one of the Old Testament Kings of Israel. That guy left quite a legacy, by any account. His prayer life intrigues me though. Let's look at one example.
After building the Temple in Jerusalem, King Solomon held a dedication ceremony. In front of the nation, he got on his knees in this ceremony, lifted his hands toward heaven and began to pray. What did he pray for? What did his nation see him asking God about? Well, I see five things that Solomon addressed in that particular prayer. Let's see what they were.
He asked for God's presence. (1 Kings 8:57) "God be with us ... and never forsake us."
He asked for the desire to do God's will in everything. (1 Kings 8:58) He wanted God to change the attitudes of his people such that God's will would be their first priority.
He asked for obedient hearts (1 Kings 8:58) He wanted God to change the minds of his people such that they would both desire and be able to obey God on all fronts.
He asked for help with each day's needs. (1 Kings 8:59) He wanted God's provision.
He asked for the advance of God's Kingdom. (1 Kings 8:60) He wanted God's broader church of believers to advance in numbers and in maturity.
So now I'm thinking about whether there could really be anything else to pray for. Isn't my daily "honey do" list for God really covered in the five parts of King Solomon's prayer? Shouldn't I be praying like King Solomon? Maybe I should be. I think I shall add one more element though.
You see, I don't find a King Solomon on his knees before his country. Here in the United States of America, I'd like to see George W. Bush on his knees at the alter in his church, or in a prayer room that he's set up in the White House. I'd like to see him praying these things that Solomon prayed for his people. If we truly are one nation under God, we need a national leader who ask God for the right things.
While we're waiting for that national leader to take to his knees publicly and lead us in prayer, I think there's something you and I can all do. We can get on our knees and ask for a godly leader. Ask God that our next president be devoted to Him and lead by Him. After that, we can ask for the five things Solomon asked for. So here's that prayer:
"Dear Lord, We ask for your presence. We are called 'one nation under God.' Sometimes it doesn't feel as though that's the case. Let us feel your presence now - and never depart from us. Don't give up on us, Lord. Never turn your back or let us drift away from you. Give our nation the desire to be 'one nation under God.' Instill in us a hunger and thirst for your ways and your will. Let us always be wondering what God's will is in any matter that we must decide. Give us the desire and ability to obey you, Lord. Teach us obedience. Make us an obedient nation. Give us our daily bread. You know, Lord, that we need a lot of it. We've been prosperous, and we've squandered much. Forgive us those sins, Father, and provide for our needs. Help us to us our abundance to provide for the needs of others. Finally, Lord, let our nation be a light unto all nations. Let our people be light and salt in a hurting world in desperate need of you and your Son. May the kingdom of God advance here on earth - as it is in heaven. These things we ask in Jesus' name. Amen."