We’re continuing with E.M. Bounds in his classic, Prayer and Praying Men, looking at Solomon today:
Nor must even Solomon be overlooked in the famous catalogue of men who prayed in Old Testament times. Whatever their faults, they did not forget the God who hears prayer nor did they cease to seek the God of prayer. While this wise man in his later life departed from God, and his sun set under a cloud, we find him praying at the commencement of his reign.
Solomon went to Gibeon to offer sacrifice, which always meant that prayer went in close companionship with sacrifice, and while there, the Lord appeared to Solomon in a vision by night, saying unto him, “Ask what I shall give thee.” The sequel shows the material out of which Solomon’s character was formed. What was his request?
“O Lord my God, thou hast made thy servant king instead of my father; and I am but a little child; I know not how to go out or to come in.
“And thy servant is in the midst of thy people which thou hast chosen, a great people, that cannot be numbered nor counted for multitude.
“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad; for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”
We do not wonder that it is recorded as a result of such praying:
“And the speech pleased the Lord, that Solomon had asked this thing.
“And God said unto him, Because thou hast asked this thing, and hast not asked for thyself long life; neither hast asked riches for thyself, nor hast asked the life of thy enemies, but has asked for thyself understanding to discern judgment;
“Behold I have done according to thy word; Lo, I have given thee a wise and understanding heart; so that there was none like thee before thee, neither after thee shall any arise like unto thee.
“Also I have given thee that which thou hast not asked, both riches and honor; so that there shall not be any among the kings like unto thee all thy days.”
What praying was this! What self-deprecation and simplicity! “I am but a little child.” How he specified the one thing needful! And see how much more he received than that for which he asked!
Take the remarkable prayer at the dedication of the temple. Possibly this is the longest recorded prayer in God’s Word. How comprehensive, pointed, intensive, it is! Solomon could not afford to lay the foundations of God’s house in anything else but in prayer. And God heard this prayer as he heard him before, “And when Solomon had made an end of his praying, the fire came down from heaven, and the glory of the Lord filled the house,” thus God attested the acceptance of this house of worship and of Solomon, the praying king.