1 Kings 8:33–34 (ESV)

33 “When your people Israel are defeated before the enemy because they have sinned against you, and if they turn again to you and acknowledge your name and pray and plead with you in this house,

The second practical example in which Solomon makes use of the formula prayer that he sets forth above is the situation when Israel has been defeated by its enemies. Specifically, they were defeated because of their sin. What he foresees will be their repentance; that is, they are turning again to the Lord and asking for forgiveness. In that case, he asks that God will hear their prayer from his seat in heaven and forgive them.

The clause because they have sinned is important for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that in this whole cycle of prayer based on the model prayer that we have looked at previously, the idea of sin comes up again and again. Second, it is important for this particular instance of petition. Solomon assumed that defeat in battle for Israel takes place because of sin.

The question, therefore, arises: are we to take this as a general principle that holds true throughout all history? Is every military defeat a result of sin on the part of the defeated army? I do not believe that we can safely draw that conclusion from Solomon’s prayer. Israel was in a special relationship with the Lord. They were God’s covenant people and, therefore, they were treated as such. When they were unfaithful to the covenant, God took that opportunity to chastise them so that they might turn to him in repentance. This relationship does not exist at this time between God and any particular nation. He may chastise any nation and bring them to military disaster, but it is not something that we can state absolutely because there is a military defeat.