“And Solomon the son of David was strengthened in his kingdom, and the LORD his God was with him, and magnified him exceedingly. Then Solomon spake unto all Israel, to the captains of thousands and of hundreds, and to the judges, and to every governor in all Israel, the chief of the fathers. So Solomon, and all the congregation with him, went to the high place that was at Gibeon; for there was the tabernacle of the congregation of God, which Moses the servant of the LORD had made in the wilderness. But the ark of God had David brought up from Kirjath-jearim to the place which David had prepared for it: for he had pitched a tent for it at Jerusalem. Moreover, the brazen altar, that Bezaleel the son of Uri, the son of Hur, had made, he put before the tabernacle of the LORD: and Solomon and the congregation sought unto it.
And Solomon went up thither to the brasen altar before the LORD, which was at the tabernacle of the congregation, and offered a thousand burnt offerings upon it. In that night did God appear unto Solomon, and said unto him, Ask what I shall give thee. And Solomon said unto God, Thou hast shewed great mercy unto David my father, and hast made me to reign in his stead. Now, O LORD God, let thy promise unto David my father be established: for thou hast made me king over a people like the dust of the earth in multitude.
Give me now wisdom and knowledge, that I may go out and come in before this people: for who can judge this thy people, that is so great? And God said to Solomon, Because this was in thine heart, and thou hast not asked riches, wealth, or honour, nor the life of thine enemies, neither yet hast asked long life; but hast asked wisdom and knowledge for thyself, that thou mayest judge my people, over whom I have made thee king: Wisdom and knowledge is granted unto thee; and I will give thee riches, and wealth, and honour, such as none of the kings have had that have been before thee, neither shall there any after thee have the like” (2 Chronicles 1:1-12).
At the age of 70 David died full of “days, riches, and honor.” David had led a fascinating life. As a youth he killed a lion and she bear while watching over his sheep. As a young man he fought without fear and without hesitation against a giant named Goliath whose height exceeded 9 feet. The young warrior had married the king’s daughter and sat in the royal court until he was compelled to flee due to court intrigue and King Saul’s madness.
But all was not dark and dreary. While fleeing from the face of a jealous sovereign, David had enhanced his reputation as a warrior. His military victories allowed him to grow in political power and personal popularity with the people. Finally, in the providence of the Lord, the time came when David was made king.
As king David enlarged the borders of the nation of Israel. He subdued the Philistines and resisted foreign invasions. He drove out the Jebusites from Mt. Moriah and he prepared to build a beautiful Temple. David was not a perfect king by any standard. In fact, he, at times, was not even a good or godly king. The Bible reveals that David took the wife of another man. He committed murder to cover his sins. His heart became lifted up with pride and he numbered the people of Israel, not for political purposes but in order to boast of his own greatness.
And yet, for all of his failures, there was something in the heart of David that would not abandon God. Thus, God would not abandon David. Divine mercy was shown so that David was allowed to die full of riches, honor and many days. Now his son Solomon would reign over Israel. Though Solomon was the son of Bathsheba, he was divinely preferred over David’s other children. Solomon’s position was contested but to no avail. God had chosen Solomon and the Lord was not disappointed for Solomon honored Him.
Solomon worshipped God when there was no real crisis in the land. Solomon worshipped the Lord in public. Solomon wanted to magnify the Lord because he held a high view of God. “Any proper vision of God’s greatness and glory must end in worship.”
And so, it was that on the night of the great celebration of his coronation, the new young king was told that he could ask God for anything. What would he request? What would you request, if given the opportunity? It has been said that a man’s character appears in the choices expressed.
Had Solomon been a covetous man, he would have asked for riches. Had Solomon been a greedy man, he would have asked for unprecedented wealth. Had Solomon been a proud man, he would have asked for honor. Had Solomon been a vengeful man, he would have asked for the life of his enemies. Had Solomon been a fearful man, he would have asked for a long life. But Solomon was not greedy, covetous, full of pride, a vengeful person, or a fearful man.
Solomon was a spiritual man. He asked for spiritual blessings. How wise it would be if we were to follow Solomon’s example and ask God for spiritual blessings. It was A. W. Tozer who wrote,
“I think God is disappointed because we make Him to be no more than a source of what we want. Even our Lord Jesus is presented too often as someone who will meet your need. That’s the throbbing heart of modern evangelism. You’re in need and Jesus will meet your need. He is the Need-meeter. Well, He is that indeed; but ah, He’s infinitely more than that.”
Solomon knew that God would meet his temporal needs. He already had. But what Solomon needed now was for God to meet the spiritual needs of himself and the nation of Israel. With that in mind, the young king asked for wisdom and knowledge.
Solomon asked the Lord because God commanded him to ask. In this we find one of the great principles of prayer. Ask!
God is anxious that we simply ask things of Him. The Lord wants us to just talk to Him. There are many Scriptures that teach this concept including Jeremiah 33:3. “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.”
Tell the Lord your troubles, as the disciples of John the Baptist did when they went to Christ to inform Him that their teacher was beheaded. Tell Him your sorrow and grief, as Mary did when she went to Christ about the death of her brother, Lazarus. Tell Him your pain, as when Paul prayed about the thorn in the flesh. Tell Him your grief, as when the woman of Canaan cried to Christ about her demon possessed daughter. Tell Him your joy, as when the disciples spoke of the demons they had cast out in His name. Tell Him your difficulty, as when the disciples asked to be taught how to pray. Tell Him the needs of His people, as Paul quoted over and over in his epistles. Tell Him of your lack of faith, your need for growth in grace, your desire to walk in righteousness and true holiness. Tell Him all that is upon your heart!
Let the people just talk to God! A dialogue with the divine will begin when two things happen.
First, the church begins to believe God. Christians say they believe in God but the church needs to believe that it can ask anything of God. The challenge is to become obedient to the command to pray. There is good reason to pray. Prayer is the lifeline of the church. The church at Pentecost was born in the midst of a prayer meeting. Everyone knows that. But why had the disciples met to pray? Because Jesus instructed them to.
Second, they obeyed and then they prayed. Solomon was obedient to the command of God. “Ask of me”, said God and Solomon said, “Of thee O Lord, will I ask.” And so Solomon prayed. The point is clear: The church must pray. Every great church, every revival, every movement of God has come because the church met to pray.
To encourage hearts to pray and to understand the structure of prayer consider four basics components that Solomon used when praying.
1) Admiration. Solomon possessed an appreciation of the excellency of God. Like Isaiah, he saw the Lord high and lifted up. The Psalmist said, “O LORD our Lord, how excellent is thy name in all the earth! Who hast set thy glory above the heavens” (Ps. 8:1).
2) Fascination. Solomon was captivated, alarmed, entranced by God. He saw in God the resplendent person that He is. God is altogether lovely. He is more beautiful than the rainbow that surrounds His throne. He is more angelic than the angels that serve Him. He is full of compassion. His mercies are renewed every day. His knowledge is infinite. His wisdom is supreme. His justice is just. “O come with me and see the Lord that He is GOOD!”
3) Adoration. Solomon loved God with fear, wonder, yearning and awe. And so he prayed.
4) Petition.Solomon made his request on the basis of God’s power. For Solomon, God was big enough to request something large. Our God is a great God and worthy to be praised. Psalms 2:8. “Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.”
Again, Solomon made his request on the basis of God’s mercy. He had seen God deal with his father David. Always and without exception it was with mercy. David never fully got what he deserved. And much punishment he well deserved. Yet, he was not stoned to death for his adultery as the Law commanded. He was not made to eat grass because of his pride like Nebuchadnezzar. He was often disciplined but never denied grace and mercy. Such is the goodness of the Lord.
Solomon knew a lot about the mercy of God and so he prayed on that basis.
Then again, Solomon made his request upon the basis of God’s promises (2 Chron 1:9). There is no stronger basis to ask God for something than to remind Him of a promise He has made. God cannot lie. If He has promised to do something, He will do it. Here are just two promises to be used: Acts 16:31 says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved and thy house.” Psalm 50:15 says, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me.” There are many more in the Scriptures. Read the Bible and mark the promises of God. Then begin to pray with power and with confidence.
You and I can ask God for anything which is consistent with His character and will. As a believer grows in grace and knowledge, it will be learned what God can be asked for. In the end the heart will learn a simple concept: “we can ask God for anything!”
Beyond that let it be declared that the church must ask God for definite items. The church must pray, and pray fervently, or the spiritual life of the assembly will be lost. Spiritual life is not usually destroyed by great acts of sin. Great sins are merely the symptom of something far more serious. Spiritual life is destroyed by degrees of persisting in little sin not by great ones.
By degrees Christians stop praying. By degrees Christians stop worshipping for something always comes up—first one week, then another, and then another. Little by little the Christian stops singing. Little by little a person withdraws the use and exercise of their spiritual gift. By degrees Christians no longer seek each other out for fellowship. By degrees Christians neglect to read the Bible. By degrees Christians no longer insist that the children take part in the spiritual life of the church.
Christians are ever in danger of being like the proverbial frog in the pot of warming water. It was unaware that the water was slowly rising in temperature, becoming warmer and warmer until it was too late, and it was boiled to death. The biblical exhortation is to awaken to righteousness. When the heart is awakened to spiritual realities then it will call upon the Lord to plead, “God save my husband.” “Lord, heal my body.” “O LORD my God, I cried unto thee, and thou hast healed me” (Ps. 30:2). “Jesus, remove the habit that has me in bondage. Oh God, set this captive free.”
“Unto thee will I cry, O LORD my rock; be not silent to me: lest, if thou be silent to me, I become like them that go down into the pit” (Ps. 28:1).
Let us ask God for anything and everything the Holy Spirit and Scripture puts upon our hearts to ask.