Praying Responsibly

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A Study in 1 Kings 3:3-14 –

“ASK ANYTHING IN MY NAME, AND I WILL DO IT” (John 14:13,14) –

A young man, taking this Scripture in the Gospel of John quite seriously and quite literally, said he was still waiting for the LORD to supply his request for a new Vette.  That’s a super sports car, for those who are not familiar with this car term.

A new Vette, and LORD, while I’m asking, I need a sunroof, and racing stripes, and the spoked wheels too!

You talk about PRAYING with specifics!  Some people do it up in a big way.

Now this young man was really only half serious about this petition of his; he does know the LORD isn’t bound to answer SELF-INDULGENCE.  He’s aware that God doesn’t provide us with expensive toys just to help us along with the Sin of Pride. Most of us don’t need any help in that category.

This man is also quite clear that there are other dimensions of the Bible verse,

“So that the FATHER may be glorified in the Son”

Thus his request, his PRAYER, is not up to par because there isn’t much of any room for the FATHER to get the glory.  The GLORY is all going to the car and the driver.

SELFISH URGES –

There are, after all, in the best of us, in the most Christian of us, some Selfish Urges.  Some things we want to have and some things we want to do, no matter what!

That might not be spiritual, but it’s real.

And so when it comes down to what we PRAY FOR, what the DESIRES of our hearts really are, it seems to be somewhat of a mixture.  It seems some of the things I find myself praying for, I might want, but maybe I shouldn’t have.  So what do I pray for?  What should I pray for?  What are the right things to pray for?

Thirty Centuries Ago… 

A young man was facing the same kind of choices with a whole candy store full of possibilities.

  • WEALTH in tremendous quantities.
  • POWER beyond what most of us can ever dream of.
  • RECOGNITION, RESPECT, ADULATION, he could have had it all!

And in fact it seemed, if you looked at one side of the records book…he was well on his way.

HEIR to the family fortune, named by his father as his successor, backed by some of the finest families of the nation, shoved ahead by an ambitious mother; about all he lacked, a degree from the Jerusalem School of Business.

Solomon had ALL THE GOODIES in the world, right there for the taking.

Life Wasn’t All A Bowl of Cherries.

Solomon had a half-brother out there drumming up rebellion against him.  There were old wounds left unhealed from his father’s days, for David had not yet settled all the scores or finished all the battles before he died.

More than that, there was the defiant, the disobedient, the disenchanted in the kingdom.  How was Solomon going to reign and reign effectively?

There was definitely serious problems of management, of loyalty, of governing.

Where to go and what to do?  What to PRAY FOR?

What do you say to the LORD?  Is it, “Let’s go for the snazzy sports car”, or is it something like, “Destroy my enemies, put down those who are against me”?

Or is it something else?

I think you know the story.  Solomon opted for something else to pray for.

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Not RICHES, nor FAME, nor CRUSHING of the OPPOSITION…

But something else–WISDOM.

Solomon PRAYED first for Wisdom, then for Understanding and for Discernment.

WISDOM, the power to know what to do with your knowledge, your resources, your energies.

“MORE IS BETTER”

I sometimes really get a kick out of watching television commercials with kids in them.  Children seem so honest in their desires and answers to the questions asked about the “why’s”.

The AT&T Commercial of an adult sitting on the floor with school children illustrates one point of Praying Responsibly.

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The conversation sort of went like this:

“More is better than less because if there’s more stuff, then you might want to have some more…” [Credit to iSpot.tv].

So MORE means not more resources, energy or time in our lives, but the WISDOM to use what you have already.

One of the Issues in Praying for Wisdom –

We so often, like Solomon, wait so late to do it.  We wait until we have tried everything else with our hands and we’ve blown it–and then, out of desperation, we ask for the LORD’S GIFT of Wisdom.  Our sense of timing is all off and so it was with Solomon.

In the first two chapters of 1 Kings, we can read and recognize, how like Solomon we are, trying everything to manage our own problems, even desperate measures, before we get down enough and strung out enough to PRAY FOR WISDOM & GUIDANCE.

When all’s said and done, the bottom line is… a young king who is still desperate, still unhappy, and still insecure.  He has done everything humanly possible to do in securing his kingdom, but he is not yet secure.

ROYAL MACHOISM just isn’t getting it done!

And Now, Solomon Turns to PRAYER for WISDOM –

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LORD, I’ve tried all I know to do, the people still aren’t behind me, the thing isn’t coming together, all my hard work and efforts and all my struggling; it just won’t do.  I have to have YOUR WISDOM!

PRAYING REASONABLY –

I noticed in my reading in 1 Kings 3, when Solomon did pray for WISDOM, it wasn’t just a PRAYER for relief from all his troubles.  No, his PRAYER was a Responsible Prayer; his PRAYER ASKED FOR WISDOM to help him deal responsibly with his tasks at hand (VERSE 9):

“So give Your servant an understanding mind and a hearing heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good bad.  For who is able to judge and rule this Your great people?”

To Govern and Discern…

You and I might well be tempted to PRAY,

“LORD, just take it all away; who needs this kingdom business?

What a headache.

Take it all away!”

 But Solomon’s PRAYER is responsible prayer.

Although Solomon must have finally come to a point of desperation after trying and trying to manage his kingdom, and nothing was working as well as it should, but now I’d say he exercises creative desperation.

He PRAYS for Wisdom, being aware that he cannot expect God to lift the burden entirely, but that he can EXPECT help and guidance, insight and discernment:

 “I cannot do it all, so I turn it over to You LORD.”

“MORE, IS BETTER!”

Solomon now takes a step further; he has moved along another notch into spiritual maturity.  Now his PRAYER IS,  “Give me what I need in order to keep on doing what I must do.”  Give me help; but I don’t shirk my responsibility.  I do not surrender, but I PRAY for WISDOM!

Finally, I wouldn’t want to forget that the GLORY of it all when we Pray for Wisdom, we get that and MORE!

We get better than we even ask for!

When we pray responsibly, even when it seems rather late in the day, our God is pleased and gives us not only that WISDOM, but a good deal MORE!

1 Kings 3:10-13 (NIV bible):

[10] The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this (WISDOM).  [11] So God said to him, “Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice,  [12] I will do what you have asked.  I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be.  [13] Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for–both riches and honor–so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.

PRAY FOR WISDOM IF…you would PRAY for the right things, and then EXPECT God’s Gifts in abundance!

An unknown, unnamed soldier during the terrible days of the American Civil War, left behind a most eloquent testimony to this truth –

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 [See Footnote [i] for Prayers from the Confederacy – A Christian Confederate Soldier’s Prayer]


CREDITS:

Footnote [i] –  See www.historyaddict.com/CSPrayer.html

Photos:  Google Image Search. 

Bible References:  Amplified Bible, except where noted in the text.

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5 Replies to “Praying Responsibly”

  1. Not sure I agree with the soldier’s prayer – God does not give infirmity, poverty etc. Otherwise totally agree! Solomon did not seek first the ‘things’, as a result the ‘things’ were added – Matthew 6:33 in action!

    1. I’m not sure I agree either, but then during the Civil War in America in the mid 1800’s, if I would have been in combat in my own country, perhaps my viewpoint would have come from a different direction. Thanks for your views, as always.

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