Most organizations have a statement that declares their goals and explains how these goals will be accomplished. The mission statement is usually made public to inform and guide anyone who interacts with the organization.
In today’s passage, Solomon’s prayer is a kind of mission statement for the newly built temple. He marvels at a God who would make a way to dwell with humanity in fellowship, and he recognizes that God’s people can come to Him only through humble supplication. Here, Solomon envisions seven situations in which people will come to the temple. In this list, he describes the feuding neighbors, the defeated army, the drought-plagued farmers, the afflicted citizens, and the despairing captives. Caught in a variety of troubles, these people pray.
Perhaps most surprisingly Solomon includes “the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel” (v. 32)among those who stand in the temple courts and bring their requests to God. Right in the middle of his repeated supplications to God on behalf of “your people,” he asks God to hear the prayers of those who are not His people. The temple, built in Israel by Israel for Israel, is not Israel’s alone. Any person—or all people together—can pray there.
Unlike a mission statement, Solomon’s prayer is not simply aspirational but is based on the sure and certain covenant promises of God. His prayer foreshadows the vision of Isaiah and, later still, of Jesus. The promised future of God’s people includes every nation and people group coming together to pray. As commentator Edward Young writes: “Here is the beauty of holiness; men from all nations, brought to His household by sovereign grace, lift up the sacrifice of prayer unto His holy name.”