Posts Tagged ‘listening in prayer’

1 Kings 3:1-15 (Part 2 of 2)
Solomon Asks for Wisdom

That legendary rock and roll icon, Tom Petty, once had a song where the title and part of the chorus was “the waiting is the hardest part.” I would like to usurp that line today and change it a bit to the following: “the listening is the hardest part!” As we move through this blog, you will see why that change to Tom Petty’s lyric is appropriate.

Have you ever thought that God’s will for your life was a certain thing and you fully believed that but yet things did not turn out as you thought they would? We’ve all been there, maybe more than once or twice in our lives. You think that it’s God will for you to do this or do that. Then, you find out that it turned out to be something quite different than you had imagined as God’s will. What I am talking about kind of reminds of that old show from the 1970s that was wildly popular at the time, Fantasy Island.

In that show, guests would pay what was assumed to be significant amounts of money to come to this unnamed island resort somewhere in the Pacific Ocean owned by Mr. Roarke. They would pay Mr. Roarke for a two-week adventure where they could live out their fantasy of being this or being that. They would get to live out their dream, their fantasy of something that they wanted do all their life. There would usually be three guest stars who would play ordinary people coming to the island to live out their fantasy. The show would follow the same formula every week. The guest stars would arrive and Mr. Roarke would greet the guests and then he would tell his assistant, Tatoo, about each guest and their back story and what their fantasy was to live out while they were there on the island. Each guest would then settle in and go to their separate parts of the show and we, the audience would follow each one. With each guest, the formula would be (1) intro into the fantasy they had chosen, (2) things seemed awesome for a while (3) something would happen that would cause a moral dilemma for the guest where the fantasy seemed to backfire on them and (4) the resolution where the guest would figure out that their current life was pretty good and they learned something from the experience. The idea was kind of simple, “be careful what you wish for because you just might get it.”

Sometimes, we are that way with God. We pray for our personal desires rather than for God’s will. We sometimes wish for what we want and not for what God’s plan is for us. We sometimes confuse what our personal desires are with the will of God for our lives. Sometimes, we get so busy telling God what we want for our lives that we forget to listen for what His will is for our lives. We pray to God as if he is a vending machine. I want this so I push this button and God will vend that right then and there. We then push ahead with our desires and not realizing that it may not be what God desires for us. Then, like in Fantasy Island, something goes wrong with the desire that we have followed and we wonder why God has failed us. Haven’t you been there?

That was the thing that I thought of this morning when I read through 1 Kings 3:1-15 a second time. How we forge ahead with our personal desires and confuse those desires with God’s will and then get angry with God because what we called “his will for our lives” did not turn out like we planned. That is pretty much the opposite of what Solomon prays for in this passage and that is what makes it remarkable:
Chapter 3
1 Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and married one of his daughters. He brought her to live in the City of David until he could finish building his palace and the Temple of the Lord and the wall around the city. 2 At that time the people of Israel sacrificed their offerings at local places of worship, for a temple honoring the name of the Lord had not yet been built.

3 Solomon loved the Lord and followed all the decrees of his father, David, except that Solomon, too, offered sacrifices and burned incense at the local places of worship. 4 The most important of these places of worship was at Gibeon, so the king went there and sacrificed 1,000 burnt offerings. 5 That night the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream, and God said, “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you!”

6 Solomon replied, “You showed great and faithful love to your servant my father, David, because he was honest and true and faithful to you. And you have continued to show this great and faithful love to him today by giving him a son to sit on his throne.

7 “Now, O Lord my God, you have made me king instead of my father, David, but I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around. 8 And here I am in the midst of your own chosen people, a nation so great and numerous they cannot be counted! 9 Give me an understanding heart so that I can govern your people well and know the difference between right and wrong. For who by himself is able to govern this great people of yours?”

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for wisdom. 11 So God replied, “Because you have asked for wisdom in governing my people with justice and have not asked for a long life or wealth or the death of your enemies— 12 I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! 13 And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life! 14 And if you follow me and obey my decrees and my commands as your father, David, did, I will give you a long life.”

15 Then Solomon woke up and realized it had been a dream. He returned to Jerusalem and stood before the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, where he sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. Then he invited all his officials to a great banquet.

In this passage, we see that Solomon ask for wisdom, not wealth, but God gave him riches and long life as well. While God does not promise riches to those who follow him – most often it is quite the contrary, he gives us what we need if we put His kingdom, his interests, and his principles first (Matthew 6:31-33). If we put God and His interests first, we may not always find earthly riches in it but we will come to find satisfaction in the joy of the Lord and being in and doing His will. In asking for wisdom, Solomon was asking for the discernment to do God’s will. He did not ask God to do his job for him but he was asking God to shine his wisdom through him. Solomon was asking the ability to understand and know God’s will in everything that he did. When we chase after our own desires, we sometimes mistake our own ego-driven desires for the will of God. When we pray about things going on in our lives, we must pray as Solomon does here. We must seek His will and the wisdom to understand what that is.

That is the takeaway this morning as I ponder and pray upon what I have read. Wisdom is as much discernment as it is anything else. Discernment is in part listening and then considering. When we spend our prayer time bringing our petitions before God, we must take the time to listen and consider. So often, we pray to God but we do not wait and listen. We place our order and think that because we prayed what we prayed, that it is now a God’s will thing. Sure, we in our state of the flesh must grapple with things before the Lord. We should have earnest conversations with him about our highs, our lows, our problems, how we see that those problems should be fixed. We should come to our Abba Father as an open book. We should come to him and lay everything all out before him. Just as we often do with our earthly dads, we should lay out the issue before God, and tell God what we think about it and how we should be proceeding. We then wait for our earthly dads to give us their sage advice as to what to do in the situation. As we grow up, we often find that our resolution to the situation gets more similar to our dad’s way (but not always). As we grow up in Christ, we find that our resolutions to situations may become more closely aligned with His will for our lives, but not always. We are all flesh so we cannot know God’s will perfectly. However, instead of listening as we do often with our earthly dads, we often treat God like hopping in Santa Claus’ lap – this is what I want and then hop down.

What I will takeaway from Solomon’s request for wisdom today is that wisdom is knowing and understanding God’s will in the situations of our lives. Wisdom comes from making the right choices based on discerning the various options. Discernment comes from listening. And there lies the learning thing for today. Listen to God. How can we know God’s will for our lives if we do not listen for His response to our petitions? Sometimes in our prayer life, instead doing all talking, we should spend some time just being quiet and listening. That’s hard for us in this world of constant multimedia input into our lives. Be still and listen. God is not our vending machine. He is our Father. He is Lord. He is Creator. Let us gain his universal and eternal wisdom and purpose for our lives by listening in our prayers as much or more than we do the talking.

Amen and Amen.

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