Consecrate Your Temple
No, this is not a post on fitness. I just could not resist the lovely picture. And besides, the image is not totally disconnected from the content. As part of another conversation I posted yesterday that we are in need of a theology of the body. While this post will not go very far in advancing us toward that particular end, I have been thinking a lot about the idea in Scripture that our bodies are the Temple of the Holy Spirit.
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body. 1 Cor 6:19-20
The New Testament idea that we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit strikes me as a profound and radical development in the revelation of God’s plan. In fact, it was a radical development when God agreed to reside with Israel (Ex 29:45), and then when He agreed to reside in Solomon’s Temple (see 2 Sam 7). Of course, in neither case was God fully contained in these dwellings. For, as Solomon acknowledges, even the whole earth cannot contain Him (2 Chronicles 6:18). Yet, there was some real sense of the manifest presence of God in each case.
Now we come to the new covenant, and this idea of Paul’s that we are the temple of God. Perhaps some points could be made about whether the understanding here is primarily corporate or individual. Are we together the temple of the Holy Spirit, or are each of us individually temples of the Holy Spirit? After all, Paul uses the plural pronoun in the passages cited above. If he lived in southeast Tennessee (as I do) he would have said, “Ya’ll are the temple of the Holy Ghost!” Does “ya’ll” mean each of you, or all of you together? Of course, ultimately the answer to the question is yes. That is, each of us has the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit in our life. And corporately we contain a greater sum of the glory of God than we do all alone.
Thinking about all of this has had me thinking about Solomon’s prayer when he dedicated the Temple (2 Chronicles 6:1-42 & 1 Kings 8:1-66). There is something powerful about the prayer. And that power is matched by the manifestation of God, which became so heavy that the priests could not perform their duties (2 Chronicles 5:14), or even enter the Temple at all (2 Chronicles 7:2). And all of that culminated with fire coming down from heaven and consuming the sacrifice that laid on the altar (2 Chronicles 7:1).
But it is not only in these spectacular demonstrations that we see the power. There is also something very powerful about the prayer itself. I do not want anyone to think that I am advocating a formulistic prayer, whereby we can mechanically put God in motion as if He were some marionette. However, there is real power in the prayer. And neither do I want people to walk away thinking in some primarily individualistic fashion, asking God to bless me, me, me. Nonetheless, I think each of us should dedicate our individual temple to the Lord.
With all of that said, I have worked through the prayer and produced a parallel prayer for consecrating yourself as the temple of God. What I noticed from the prayer is that Solomon is brutally honest about the prosects. His forecast on human faithfulness is ruthlessly bearish. But he is 100% bullish on his outlook on God, even willing to sell the farm to invest in God’s faithfulness. And I also noticed that each pericope not only offers reflections on human nature, but also on the characteristics of God. Therefore, I end each section with the attribute of God that I see reflected in that pericope. So, I invite you to take a few minutes when you have the time and work through this prayer as a dedication of your life to God. I personally found it to be a powerful and meaningful experience. Let me know what you think.
From 2 Chronicles 6:14-17
“O Lord my God, You have fulfilled all of Your promises to the generations before me. I ask You to hear my prayer and fulfill all of Your promises to me because You are faithful.”
From 2 Chronicles 6:18-21
“O Lord my God, You are high and lifted up, even the heavens cannot contain You. Yet, even from Your dwelling place You hear my prayers from this temple. I ask You to continue to hear my prayers and forgive my sins because You are mighty.”
From 2 Chronicles 6:22-23
“O Lord my God, You punish the wicked and justify the righteous. When I sin against my neighbor and seek Your forgiveness I ask You to hear my prayers and bring about justice because You are just.”
From 2 Chronicles 6:24-25
“O Lord my God, You heal those who turn to You. When I sin against You I am taken away by my enemy. When I turn back to You I ask that You hear my prayers and bring me back from exile because You are restorer.”
From 2 Chronicles 6:26-27
“O Lord my God, You bring forth provisions in my life. You send me drought when I sin against You. When I turn from my sin and confess Your Name I ask that you hear my prayers and send forth the rain in my life because You are provider.”
From 2 Chronicles 6:28-31
“O Lord my God, You shelter me from all the things that could destroy me. You pull back Your shield of protection when I continually sin against You. When I cry out for help and turn my heart away from my sin and towards You I ask that You hear my prayers and surround me because You are protector.”
From 2 Chronicles 6:32-33
“O Lord my God, You care for all people. People will come to me when they hear of your great name. When the unbeliever comes to me I ask that you hear the prayers they pray with me because You are compassionate.”
From 2 Chronicles 6:34-35
“O Lord my God, You help me to overcome. I have an enemy that seeks to destroy me. When I cry out for triumph over my enemy I ask that You hear my prayers because You are victorious.”
From 2 Chronicles 6:36-39
“O Lord my God, You are righteous in Your anger over my sin. There is no person who does not sin. When I repent from my sin and turn back to you with my whole heart hear my prayers because You are forgiving.”
“O Lord, my God:
- You are faithful!
- You are mighty!
- You are just!
- You are restorer!
- You are provider!
- You are protector!
- You are compassionate!
- You are victorious!
- You are forgiving!
…now arise, O Lord, and come rest in this temple with the might of your covenant, as I rejoice in your goodness! Amen.”
Prayer is not only necessary for the temple to be in fit condition for His presence but also to keep it that way for what may try to attend the temple on certain occasions. It has always amazed me how independent we want to be on prayer from what the scripture teaches. Jesus stated very clearly in Luke 11:1-11. In verse “2 Jesus said, “This is how you should pray:” He made it a point to clarify on how we should pray. Then He expanded on prayer in the consistency and focus of prayer. So often I consider the formality of prayer in liturgies and responses to open prayer “statements” to include whole congregation response. I have come to the conclusion that if the individual, or corporately speaking, individuals, should be able to have a formalized prayer, which kept pure and focused is just as powerful as “independent” words, which are declared by people who pray somewhat in a disciplined way. To be more precise prayer is so necessary to include all your references of God’s character and His promise to fulfill the hope for His presence that we need every moment of our lives.
Agreed, Dennis. And I like how you mentioned that prayer prepares us for whoever might “attend” our temple. One of my favorite parts to pray of this prayer is the one that says, “People will come to me when they hear of your great name. When the unbeliever comes to me I ask that you hear the prayers they pray with me because You are compassionate.”
Jon, what a fath-building message! ‘Sitting here at the office with tears rolling down my face and praise coming from my lips to God who is all these things and more! What a way to start the day! THANK YOU for sharing your anointed insights! I’ve become a faithful “follower” of your blog!! Keep ’em coming!
You need to write a book, my friend!!
Vicki, thanks for sharing. I had a powerful experience writing it as well! And thanks for the encouragement! The Lord willing I’ll “keep ’em coming!”
I love your combined blog! But I miss the Like button from your old individual blogs! I have a lot of posts in this site that I really like. You guys are a blessing! Keep on writing!:)