They say that the key to any good relationship is communication.
For many Churches this always seems to be one way, the pastor tells you what the Lord wants you to do and it is only from their lips you ever receive the word of the Lord
However, for a successful relationship it really does have to be a two-way conversation. But not a two-way conversation between you and the minister, instead it needs to be a two-way conversation between yourself and the Lord. No-one else need be involved.
It isn’t inappropriate to suggest that the Lord wants us to have a relationship with Him. As such we have been and will continue to discuss how this relationship might be grown, because friends it would be unrealistic of us to expect that without working at that relationship it will grow.
Now I don’t mean that on the Lord’s side, as we have seen the Lord loved us first, it has been unconditional, it has been an epic journey throughout scripture, where God who saw that His creation was Good, but became separated from Him, and slowly He has worked to fellowship with us.
Until we get a passion for Him, not in the same terms as the Lord loved us, because we could never do that, then we will not want to build a relationship with him
And this brings us to today’s message. How we can communicate with our Beloved and how our Beloved communicates with us. Why is that important? Well as we see in the book of Acts, how could Paul go through all that he did, and never give up, or legitimately say I have had enough. Or how did he know so clearly where the Lord wanted him or when he didn’t want him to go into other areas. And the answer is that he had a relationship with His Saviour. One built on communication, a constant two-way communication,
Please read 2 Chronicles 7:10 - 16
We are going to talk about how we converse with the Lord and that is through our prayer life. Prayer it is said is the last refuge of the desperate, that there is no atheist on a sinking ship. I could do a great exegesis on Mathew 6, on what Jesus says about prayer, or how we should pray. But ‘how’ is far less significant than why? And the why is only significant if we have the belief and expectation that our Prayers are being heard. So How can we be sure we are being Heard?
What we see here in 2 Chronicles, 5,6 and 7 is the building of the temple of the Lord. The temple, dreamed by David as a center for the worship of God and for a new home to place the Ark of the Covenant that had been lost but now found. The indwelling presence of the Lord would be present, in the holy of holies, the inner chamber where no man could go except for the High Priest on the Day of Atonement.
Now finally constructed by his son Solomon, after conflict upon conflict and wrangling over the throne, a divided nation, the temple, the greatest of all the temples constructed by man. Constructed with the finest materials and dripping with Gold, it shouted to the known world of the power of the Might Lord of Hosts and the prosperity of His chosen people. The People rejoiced and great sacrifices were offered and consumed by the Lord Himself.
Yet after all the celebrating and the people have returned home, the Lord has a serious conversation with Solomon regarding what to do in the event of a slipping away or an emergency. The Lord is giving Solomon the very wise instruction he asks for to lead the people, especially in the event that their nation should fall away and He were to bring plagues upon them. And that is to follow the instruction of 2Chronicles 7:14
if My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from Heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 chronicles 7:14
What becomes immediately obvious is that the Lord is showing that these acts are those done by the desperate, or in a desperate state. To humble one’s self is to accept that you cannot control the situation and turn to another source for help; the word to seek my face is synonymous with Seeking after the Lord’s presence; And the promise is that the Lord will turn and heal our land of the afflictions.
For many people this is the very essence of prayer, seeking to be in the Lord’s presence, going that extra mile and humbling one’s self so as to seek an answer to a difficult situation. But praying only in such circumstances is limiting and if we are trying to develop our relationship to one of beloved and bride groom it would be catastrophic if we only communicated when there was some kind of disaster. Friends our relationships with one another would sour very quickly when the only thing we do is ask for something. That relationship is defined as one with little children, and although we are The Lord’s children, we are to develop into the Beloved and the Bride, rather than being on milk always.
No friends our communication via prayer must be defined as more than what to do in a catastrophe. If that is how your prayer life works you will never have a close relationship with Christ and although prayer is there for the desperate, we can have more and that is what this passage shows us.
Now My eyes shall be open, and My ears shall be open to the prayer of this place.
2 Chronicles 7:15
Tells us, that before Israel got to a catastrophe then the Lord chose to hear them in the holy place of the temple, on a constant basis. This is the relationship that we must desire to have and the communication we must endeavour to keep, one that is constant. But it would be wrong of me to take a scripture about the dedication of a temple and apply it to yourselves unless the text allows.
Verse 10 gives us an intriguing statement.
And on the twenty-third day of the seventh month he sent the people away into their tents, glad and merry in heart for the goodness that Jehovah had shown to David, and to Solomon, and to Israel His people.2 Chronicles 7:10
When there is a date in scripture it often has a significance that we must study to find out why. The 7th month of the Jewish calendar is Tishri. This is the harvest month and the month of the final of the three Jewish feast holidays, the first being in Nissan (spring) holding the festivals of Passover, first fruits and unleavened bread, the second 50 days later and being the feast of Pentecost, and then the third, which is in the seventh month, holding the feast of trumpets, atonement, and the feast of Tabernacles. Leviticus tells us about this third festival.
Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, The fifteenth day of this seventh month shall be the Feast of Tabernacles for seven days to Jehovah. Leviticus 23:34
The feast of tabernacles was, and still is, a time when the Jewish people would live in tents and not in their houses, it was a time of remembrance of the 40 years walking through the wilderness and to remember the provision that the Lord had provided. Water and food in a desert that could provide neither, but supernaturally God did it, for giving them the victory in their struggles against nations and that no shoe or clothing wore out. Yet it also has a way of looking forward, as it was to remind Israel that the inheritance of the Promised Land was still not fulfilled, something we read in Zechariah that is to be completed in the millennial reign of Christ.
Solomon’s dedication took place during the feast of tabernacles which lasted for seven days, so that takes us to the 22nd, so what is the 23rd day, Leviticus tells us
On the first day shall be a holy convocation. You shall do no work of labour. Seven days you shall offer a fire offering to Jehovah. On the eighth day shall be a holy convocation to you. And you shall offer a fire offering to Jehovah. It is a solemn assembly. And you shall do no work of labour. Leviticus 23:35-36
The 23rd day, or the 8th day of the feast, was known as Hossanah Rabbah or the great day of the feast. It was the day that the priests would pray for the latter rain, the autumn rains, which was for the grain harvest. The priest would go out and bring a special container full of fresh rain water from the pool of Siloam, and at the same time another would fetch sacrificial wine. They would walk all around Jerusalem as the priests and Levites sang psalms 113 to 118, and at the end of each line the crowd would cry “praise be the Lord, Hallelujah”. Finally, the precession would end at the altar as through two funnels at either side of the Altar, where the sin sacrifices were made. Water and wine were poured, mingling down into the altar as the people cried great is the salvation of the Lord and then there would be silence as a solemn assembly was called.
It is in the silence that we read of Christ our Lord, crying out the great explanation of this ceremony
And in the last day of the great feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes on Me, as the Scripture has said, "Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water." (But He spoke this about the Spirit, which they who believed on Him should receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.) John 7:37-39
The day of great salvation and a prayer for the latter rain to be poured down, as the sacrifice of wine and water were poured out in praise. It is on this day, that the temple was finished and the Lord told Solomon I will dwell within the temple and I will constantly hear your prayers. But how does this apply to us?
And what agreement does a temple of God have with idols? For you are the temple of the living God, as God has said, "I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people." 2 Corinthians 6:16
Today we read about the dedication of the temple on this wonderful day of the great feast where Prayers were made for the living water. And Christ declares anyone who comes to him out of him will flow these living waters. Friends this day is the great day of your salvation, and so when we read of Solomon’s dedication we come to acknowledge that you as the temple of God were also completed and dedicated.
The ark of God was stored in the Holy place, The ark contained the law, Aaron’s rod which budded (new life) and manna, (provision) this ark represents Christ Jesus. When you accepted Jesus into your heart the ark was stored within you. You friends are the temple of God, His cohabitation on earth. This day that Solomon dedicated the temple applies to you, and the promises thereof also apply to you.
So what promises?
Yet, O, Jehovah my God, You have turned toward the prayer of Your servant and to his request, to listen to the cry and to the prayer which Your servant prays before You today; for Your eyes to be open toward this house night and day, toward the place of which You have said, My name shall be there; to listen to the prayer which Your servant shall pray toward this place. And You shall listen to the cry of Your servant, and of Your people Israel, when they shall pray toward this place, and hear in Heaven Your dwelling-place, and when You hear, forgive! 1 Kings 8:28-30
Solomon prayed this prayer at its dedication and the Lord answered him
Now My eyes shall be open, and My ears shall be open to the prayer of this place. For now I have chosen and sanctified this house, so that My name may be there forever. And My eyes and My heart shall be there forever. 2 Chronicles 7:15-16
You are the living temple, the Lord has chosen to sanctify it for His holy cohabitation and the promise of His dwelling forever. Friends this is how we can be sure that our Prayers are heard, and another reason why our prayer life should be so constant, we don’t pray to one so far away, but to one who is so very near.
That all sounds so good and so comforting, but Matthew throws a spanner in the works of our prayers
Therefore do not be like them, for your Father knows what things you have need of, before you ask Him. Matthew 6:8
If our Lord is so near that He dwells within and if He knows our needs, what’s the point? The answer is it’s all about faith.
If tomorrow whilst doing your work you were to run into someone talking out loud on their own, you would avoid them. You may be reading this and be one of those people who are not be able to understand why people believe in Christ without proof. The bible is full of individuals who have acted on nothing more than what they believed God said to them. Noah, Ezekiel most of the prophets, Solomon, Peter in the Boat, Samuel hearing God’s call. There is no escaping that to be a Christian you must have faith. Without it, it is impossible to please God. Inside each one of us is a voice crying for us to listen and to respond to the word. That response is prayer.
Prayer is the action which we do upon believing. Many of us have testimonies of praying for the first time that speak of self-conscience. We get confused about prayer, we often see it as similar to artillery hitting the enemy from afar, or as a telegraph hoping for a conversation. But to use a phrase from a TV advert, prayer is more like a can of red bull, ‘It gives you wings’.
Prayer is an act of faith that is all powerful, it is not for The Lord’s purpose as if He needs our permission to act but instead it is to build up our faith. Because when we can pray openly to our Lord without seeing him in the face of opposition and seeming common sense, well then we can build a relationship that our minds tell us we can’t have.
But How does Christ receive our prayers? Well revelation gives us a pictorial answer
And I looked, and lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures, amidst the elders, a Lamb stood, as if it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth. And He came and took the book out of the right hand of Him sitting on the throne. And when He had taken the book, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each one having harps and golden vials full of incense, which are the prayers of the saints. Revelation 5:6-8
In Revelation our prayers to Christ are likened to a sweet incense before Him, that is they are pleasing, refreshing, invigorating and above all motivating. In the Old Testament the altar of incense, where this sacrifice is made, is as close to the holy of holies as one could get. But Jesus ripped the curtain down and now we can commune with Christ directly. Therefore, prayer is to build your faith in Christ.
Read Luke 11:5-13
We know from this text that we are not ordering God about, the householder did not give because he asked, but because he was bold to ask, he was without shame to ask, because his need was great. the parable is applied to everyone, and then affixed to the idea of seeking the good gifts of God. The need is not the Lord’s the need is our own. When we have become aware of our need, know that we cannot meet the need, but that the need must be met and that only the Lord can meet it, and that we count the Lord as friend, then we become shameless in our asking, for only He is able. The reason we take away from this parable, for the point of praying is because only He can meet the need. Which teaches us something on the other side, if you can already meet the need, if you have the means (which have entirely been given by the Lord) why are you praying?
Ephesians tells us what prayer is to us.
And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching to this very thing with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Ephesians 6:17-18
In Ephesians the word is the offensive weapon, but prayer illuminates the problem and builds up the courage. Jesus spent 40 days fasting and praying before he faced satan’s temptations, but he battled him with the word. Many say if you want to know Christ you must pray to Him. but the truth is different. If you want to know the Lord, you must read about Him but if you want to understand Christ then you must pray. For Faith is built up by our prayer, it illuminates the problem and it shows we mean it
The first man-made temple was dedicated on the great feast day, where the Lord promised he would hear the prayers and dwell. Today you are the God made temple, created anew by Christ Jesus. If today he is faithful and just to hear our prayers, our hearts must be inclined to pour them out to Him. Prayer is the illumination of our issues and relationship, it is how we will grow our faith and it is how we will stand. Today I haven’t given you the how, just the why and the promise that you will be heard. It is time for you to work out in your own way the How.
He will listen, will you talk?