Then Solomon said, “The Lord has said that he would dwell in thick darkness. I have indeed built you an exalted house, a place for you to dwell in forever.”
Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in the presence of all the assembly of Israel and spread out his hands toward heaven, and said, “O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you, in heaven above or on earth beneath, keeping covenant and showing steadfast love to your servants who walk before you with all their heart; you 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.
“But will God indeed dwell on the 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 this day, that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, ‘My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” I Kings 8:12-13, 22-23, 27-30 ESV
[Jesus said] Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.
In that day you will ask in my name, and I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. John 16:23b-24, 26-27 ESV
The Richards family had gotten into a car accident, and they needed help. Their car was wrecked, and they needed a tow truck to take it to the mechanic’s to get fixed. They needed the police to come to report the accident. And Mrs. Richards had some cuts and a broken wrist, and she needed to go to the hospital. The family stood with their car on the side of the road, and they all turned to face the city where their help was coming from. They kept watching the road for the police and the tow truck and the ambulance that they needed to reach them.
God had come to be present in a special way in the temple Solomon had built, and when Solomon dedicated the temple he said that the people should pray towards the temple. When they talked to God, they would turn and face in the direction of the temple. Even if they were far away and couldn’t see the temple, they looked for help from God from the place where the temple was. Solomon knew that God is everywhere and that he fills all of heaven and earth, but he asked God to be there for his people in the temple. You can read Solomon’s whole prayer in the Bible. He talked about reasons people might turn to the temple and ask God for help. He talked about people breaking their promises to others, and God judging between the guilty and the righteous. He talked about the armies of Israel being defeated in battle because of their sin. He talked about drought, famine, and disease. He talked about foreign people who would hear about the true God and pray toward the temple. He talked about people sinning and needing God’s forgiveness. He even looked into the future, to a time when God’s people would turn away from him so that God took them away from their land. At all these times, Solomon asked God to hear the prayers that the people prayed facing the temple.
Solomon’s temple was destroyed long ago, and now there is no building or place on earth where God stays in a special way. Jesus is God’s true temple, because God came to us in Jesus. When we need to talk to God, no matter where we are or what our trouble is, we talk to God through Jesus. Jesus promised that our Heavenly Father would hear our prayers that we pray in his name. He said that our Heavenly Father loves us because we believe in Jesus. Jesus took all our sins and troubles to the cross with him, and because of that God forgives us and loves us every day. We don’t have to face a certain direction to pray to God. We can talk to God every day through Jesus.
Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for forgiving our sins and for hearing our prayers. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.