I grew up in rural Iowa, a place with a lot of gravel roads. In the seasons of Spring and Fall, the thawing and re-freezing lead to some impressive ruts in those roads. It is difficult to avoid them since they nearly dominate the driving space. When it comes to prayer, there are seasons of life where we can slip into ruts – times where focused wrestling in prayer is set aside by just going along with the rut of prayer that has always been done. There are Christians who can pray wonderful prayers… over and over again with almost no thought to it, continually saying the same things anytime they pray.
In today’s Old Testament lesson we have a prayer of Solomon at the dedication of the Lord’s temple. The two aspects of this prayer that jump out to me are: Solomon reminded God of his promises to the covenant people; and, Solomon reminded God of who God is. Solomon, as the wisest person to ever live, did not believe that somehow God forgot about his promises or had some sort of divine dementia about his basic nature. But Solomon prayed with a kind of prayer that God delights to hear. God likes it when we pray according to the promises he has given us; and, God enjoys it when we pray with a focused understanding of whom we are praying.
So, then, in our prayers it would be a good thing to emulate the example of King Solomon. Know the promises of God contained in the Scriptures, and pray that they will be confirmed in our lives, families, churches, and world. Next, also pray with the intention of declaring what kind of God we acknowledge and expect to hear. We serve a big God whose hugeness is continually above all things, and whose work is always continuing according to his decrees and words.
One way of moving our prayers out of the ruts of familiar language and thoughts is to journal them. Writing our prayers can become for us an act of worship as we slow down enough to craft a response to God that is thoughtful and connects us with him beyond the rote and routine.
All-consuming God, the highest heavens cannot contain you, for you above all creation. Yet, you have stooped to notice us, small as we are with our wants and needs. Thank you that in Jesus Christ all your promises are found and fulfilled. May I know Christ more intimately, and serve him more passionately with the spiritual power of prayer you provide. Amen.