When you reach 2 Chronicles 6 and 7 you have an opportunity to preach a strategic OT prayer. It’s one of the benefits of preaching through the OT. The OT prayers such as Solomon’s in this text contain important aspects of a theology of prayer. These prayers function for the church by teaching us about God’s character, the kinds of things we need from Him, and His ability to answer our prayers.
I organized the teaching this way:
- God is accessible (v. 6:18). The opening question shows that God dwells with us. These are excellent opportunities to teach God’s omnipresence and immensity.
- He’s also attentive to our prayers (vv. 6:19a, 20, 21a, 7:15-16). In this section Solomon prays what he knows to be true of God: “…have regard to the prayer of your servant…listening to the cry…”
- We pray for forgiveness and help (vv. 6:29b, 21b, 25, 27a, 30, 39; 7:14b). The Chronicler records 14 times where God’s people are unfaithful. I can’t think of another prayer more important to our spiritual lives than asking God for forgiveness. You can see from the verses how much of this section is devoted to what we need from God. You might have some fun with 7:14 since so many of our congregants have heard this verse quoted in terms of our country’s spiritual condition. There are lots of reasons why this verse shouldn’t be read and applied that way.
- We pray this because of our sin and its consequences (vv. 6:22, 24, 26, 28, 36). Verse 36 provides an excellent opportunity to teach the universality of sin (things like original sin and actual sins): “for there is no one who does not sin.”
Due to the length and importance of this section, I chose to spend two teaching times on it. Solomon leads the way so we will pray and God will answer. Consider preaching these prayers in Chronicles and contribute to God’s glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).
One of my favorite places in 2 Chronicles is from 2:1–6:2 and 7:1-3. This lengthy Scripture records the building of God’s house. In the middle of all the details about materials and furnishing you will find a description of an OT worship service.
Consider structuring your sermon around the following (providing you have already taught a theology of the temple in previous sermons as I had):
- The character of our God (vv. 5:13b; 7:3b). It should go without saying that our worship centers on our God. In this section we find repeated, “For he is good…” Think about how we use this word in daily life–“that was a good meal, movie, book, or day”–and you quickly realize we’ve got some work to do explaining the goodness of our God. The other character trait of our God is his loyal love (the important Hebrew word, hesed). Nothing sets off a worship celebration like focusing on the goodness of our God.
- The glory of our God (vv. 5:13c-6:1; 7:1-2). In this section “the glory of the Lord filled the temple.” 6:1 describes “thick darkness.” There’s a mysteriousness about our God’s presence. Even in Exodus 24:9-11, for instance, when we read, “they beheld God,” we learn that, “There was under his feet…” So, we don’t really see God, but only what He was “standing on.” It’s good for us to remember that our glorious God who matters most, is present with His people. We’re never alone in this world. God is with us.
- Finally, our response to His goodness and glory is seen in 7:3. We read, “they bowed down with their faces to the ground on the pavement and worshiped and gave thanks to the Lord…” Our worship always includes this same humble attitude, if not the same humble posture.
And if you’re wanting to read Chronicles Christologically, you certainly can remind your faith-family from John 1:14 that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory…” That vision of our glorious Christ continues to drive our worship services.
May we preach about worship in our worship services so God receives glory in the church and in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:21).