What if I get sick… what if a big earthquake strikes… what if my son did not pass the entrance exam.. what if I lost my job… what to do when there’s not enough money to pay rent.. where to turn when terror strikes or the factory burns down… how to cope when relationship turns sour..
The Bible does not tell us a clear-cut answer for each ‘if’ and ‘when’ of life. One Biblical truth it teaches us: Do not worry about all these things. (See Matthew 6:25-34). Instead pray. (Philippians 4:6-7)
Oh but many of us Christians do that – we pray. When? When the crisis strikes or when we think it is about to happen…
Do you know that King Solomon said a prayer for all the ‘ifs’ and ‘whens’ he could ever imagine in his days.
Read 1 Kings 8 and observe how many of his prayer items started with ‘If’ or ‘When’: all the not good scenarios but harsh realities in life: sin (v.31,46), defeat (v.33), drought (v.35), famine, pestilence, enemies, plague, sickness (v.37), war, etc. Why? Wasn’t he the richest, wisest, most glorious king in the history of Israel? The Bible tells us there was peace and great prosperity during his reign. (1 King 4, 5:4)
When and where did he pray about the ‘ifs’ and the ‘whens’ of life? He prayed after he built a great beautiful temple for God. He prayed during the dedication of the temple to God. Not the typical ‘celebratory’ prayer, is it?
Why ‘if’ and when ‘when’? ‘If’ seems to imply ‘might’ or ‘might not’ happen. When is more a matter of ‘when’ 🙂 Regardless, Solomon prayed because he was calling on God to be ‘present’ in the temple he built for Him. He recognized how awesome, loving and kind God is (v.23). He realised that God is too big to be contained in the house he built (v.28). Solomon knew the realities of life and living life. He knew of man’s sinful nature. He understood how nature works – drought, famine, sickness are part of life. Solomon understood that man can only live and overcome these challenges by the hand of God. He grasped the importance of having God ‘hear from heaven’ (vv.30,32,34,36,39,43,45), ‘forgive’ (vv.30,34,36,39,50) and ‘maintain the cause’ (v.45,49) of the ‘pray-er’.
Today, we can pray like Solomon. We pray for the ‘ifs’ and ‘whens’ – for the not so good even in the midst of prosperity and blessings. It is not being pessimistic or fatalistic. We pray because we need God to be with us on earth as He is in heaven. We pray because we need his forgiveness if and when we sin, when we make him sad, when we offend our neighbors. We pray because God alone can maintain our cause. He alone makes the impossible, possible.
We pray each of us knowing the affliction of our own heart:
God, hear in heaven Your dwelling place, and forgive and act and render to each according to all our ways, whose heart You know, for You alone know the hearts of all the sons of men, that we may fear You all the days of our life. (vv.39-40)
Lord, hear in heaven Your dwelling place in order that all the peoples of the earth may know Your name and fear You. Amen.