Lift your midweek with a time of Bible study and reflection.

For the next few weeks, we are going to be looking at various aspects of prayer. No matter whether we are practicing social distancing, sheltering in place, or even quarantined, we can always pray. This week, we’ll look at how it’s always a good time to pray (Daniel 6:6-10).

Previous week’s studies:

This Week’s Study:

The Far-Reaching Effect of Prayer (1 Chronicles 22:13)

On February 15, 2007, one of the great heroes of the living room passed way. You may not know his name, but I suspect every one of you has used his invention several times in the last 24 hours. His name was Robert Adler, and in 1950 he, along with his co-worker Eugene Polley, invented the wireless remote control. We use the technology provided by this device for a variety of tasks that have moved far beyond changing the channel on the television. Remote controls unlock our cars, answer our telephones, turn on the ceiling fan and adjust the heat in our gas log fireplace. There is a wonderful sense of comfort being able to control our world from the comfort of our Lazy Boy.

Of course, everyone realizes that’s not true. You can’t control the world with the buttons of a remote. Sometimes, we might think it would be nice if we could press Pause, Play or Rewind, to change some of the problems around us. Wouldn’t it be nice to rewind the world to just before the first person caught COVID-19 and tell them, “Whatever you are about to do, DON’T DO IT!”

Sometimes, we look at prayer in those terms, as if we can press a spiritual button and make the world a better place. We all understand that kind of thinking is a little naive. What we often don’t understand is that prayer is much more powerful than that.

The truth is illustrated throughout the scripture and several times in the life of David. He was, as revealed in the book of Psalms, a tremendous man of prayer. Through the scripture, we can see just what effect those prayers had, not only in his life but in the course of the history of the nation of Israel. As we look at David’s prayer for his son Solomon and the temple, we can see the importance and significance of prayer.

Realize the significance of prayer.

1. Prayer has a lasting impact.

David was coming to the end of his life. Through his reign, he had developed one dream – to build a temple in Jerusalem. As he progressed through life. God had told him that the temple would be built, but that his son Solomon would be the one to build it.

David could have been despondent that he would not fulfill his lifelong ambition, but instead, he made it a matter of prayer. As he came to the last of his life, his final words to Solomon that we have recorded in the scripture are instructions in building the temple. He expressed the prayer he had lifted to the Lord for his son.

I Chronicles 22:11-12 (NIV) 11 “Now, my son, the LORD be with you, and may you have success and build the house of the LORD your God, as he said you would. 12 May the LORD give you discretion and understanding when he puts you in command over Israel. So that you may keep the law of the LORD your God.

David expressed to Solomon what he had prayed on his behalf – that he would be successful in completing the temple, just as God had promised. David also added another prayer, that God would give him “discretion and understanding” as he began his rule.

How did God answer this prayer? Think about the history of Israel you learned in Sunday School. After David’s death, Solomon became king. Solomon was young and inexperienced, facing the enormous job of leading the people of Israel. 2 Chronicles 1:7 records what happened. God appeared to Solomon in a dream and presents an almost incredible offer:

2 Chronicles 1:7 (NIV) 7 That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon could have asked for anything – riches, power, you name it. Solomon’s response was to pray for wisdom and knowledge to lead the people according to God’s command. Where did that response come from? It came from the prayer of his father. God answered both of their prayers.

God can do amazing things through prayer. The book Voices of the Faithful describes the account of one of our IMB missionaries in Zimbabwe reporting the prayers of a poor African woman who’s donkey went missing. She prayed fervently that the donkey would return, but began to lose hope. Her region was suffering from a terrible drought, and her harvest of grain was far less than her family needed. The woman’s prayers soon were more for her “daily bread” than for her donkey. She and her family wondered if God would answer their prayer.

The next morning, when she walked out of her hut, there was her donkey with a 100-pound bag of maize meal on its back. The woman was thrilled to see her donkey. but afraid to use the meal, not knowing whose it was.

Eventually, the family pieced together what had happened. A man in the village had stolen the donkey to use in his field. One night, after grinding his grain and loading it on the donkey, the man went to the local tavern and got drunk. In his drunken haze, he had left his donkey loaded with his bag of meal untied. The donkey realized it was not far from the home where he had been well cared for, and found its way back to its original owner. The thief, not wanting to be identified, never claimed his bag of grain. God answered both of the woman’s prayers, returning her donkey and providing bread for her table. (Voices of the Faithful, p. 97)

Sometimes, you may wonder if your prayers make a difference. They do. God answers prayers, sometimes not in the way we might think, often in ways that are not what we expect. David’s prayer for his son was answered long after his death.

How many of us can give testimony to the same in our lives? How many of us know the Lord today because of the prayers of a godly mother or father, a faithful grandmother or grandfather. Only eternity will reveal the answer for sure. I expect many of us will have a joyful reunion one day in heaven with someone who will meet us there with the words “I knew my prayers would be answered.” Many of us will share those words with others we are lifting in prayer today, but have not yet seen their response to the Savior. Prayer has long-lasting results. Those results will breed wonderful success.

Questions:

1. When was there a time your prayers were answered? Have you told anyone about it?

2. What prayer are you praying that has not yet been answered? What gives you faith that God will answer?

2. Find success in obedience to God.

David was careful to define success for Solomon.

1 Chronicles 22:13 (NIV) 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.

David had made the mistake of wrongly defining success many times throughout his life. He saw success as the power of a large army. He saw success as the taking of another man’s wife. Each time, the Lord rebuked him, teaching him the fallacy of trusting in what the world defines as power.

David didn’t want Solomon to make the same mistake. In his final instructions to his son, David gives him the secret for success. More than riches, more than power, more than an increase in property, more than a mighty army, David’s prayer for Solomon is that he would be faithful to God.

He could know what to do from the laws that God gave to Moses. Following the Lord’s commands would bring success.

David knew what it was to be afraid and discouraged. He knew what it was to find himself hiding in the back of a cave, wondering if his life was over. He knew what saw him through all of those terrible experiences – he had prayed and God had been faithful. Solomon would face times of struggle and demand as king, but David knew where he could find the strength. Solomon was facing a daunting task to build the temple and rule the nation, but he need not be afraid or discouraged. He knew what to do.

On my grandfather’s farm, my cousins and I were constantly exploring. The farm was an endless source of fields and creeks to discover. One day, we had been hiking around for several hours, and I realized I had no idea where we were. I figured I would follow my cousins, but after a while, I got the feeling they didn’t know where they were, either. So I asked them which direction it was back to the house. They told me they didn’t know. I guess they saw the blood rushing from my face, so they let me in on the secret. My grandfather had built a series of roads around the farm – not paved roads, but mainly a set of paths he used to drive his equipment from field to field. In the course of creating the paths, he made them where they all eventually led back to the house. My cousins smiled and told me, “We’ll get back as long as we follow the road granddad built.”

David gives this same advice to his son – Follow the roads your heavenly Father has built, and you will find what you are looking for. We can know the same truth. Success in life is following God’s command. God has given us his word so that we might have the very best life available, an abundant life. It will not be a life without struggle – just look at the lives of faith displayed in the scripture: David, Abraham, Peter, and Paul all faced tremendous obstacles in life. Yet, to a person, at the conclusion of their lives, they knew they had been blessed – their lives lived in faithful obedience, were rich in meaning.

As you pray in Christ your prayers will have a lasting impact, even after the time, your life in this world has ended. David’s prayer for his son would lead to Solomon’s wisdom as a leader and the completion of the temple which would remain as a visible symbol of God’s presence among his people. Want to make a lasting impact in your world? Pray. Your prayer, prayed in trustful obedience

to Christ’s command, will have effects far beyond even what you can imagine.

1 Chronicles 22:13 (NIV) 13 Then you will have success if you are careful to observe the decrees and laws that the LORD gave Moses for Israel. Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or discouraged.

Questions:

1. What are some “roads” God has built-in your life to follow?

2. What encourages you to stay on God’s paths, and what warns you when you depart from them?