Prayer. If I don’t begin my morning with it, the rest of my day goes quickly downhill. And the question is: Why?
Does my prayer change what’s happening around me? Does prayer persuade God to do things differently? And what is it that we should be praying for, anyway?
I believe much of the answer to all of these questions is found in the book of 1 Kings, Chapter 3 – to be specific:
Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place. Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you. And you have kept for him this great and steadfast love and have given him a son to sit on his throne this day. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of David my father, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, a great people, too many to be numbered or counted for multitude. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil, for who is able to govern this your great people?”
It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, behold, I now do according to your word. Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked,both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.” 1 Kings 3:3-14 ESV
Solomon could have asked God for anything, and yet, he chose to ask for wisdom… and God responds by not only giving him wisdom in abundance, but by giving him all the more on top of this – things above and beyond, that Solomon didn’t even ask for.
So, what does this have to do with our prayer lives?
It should tell you two things:
- We should be praying for wisdom to discern God’s Will in our lives above all else.
- When we are following the Lord, not only will He answer, abundantly, our prayers for wisdom and guidance, He also will provide the things we unselfishly don’t ask for.
We are all familiar with The Lord’s Prayer – right?
It’s found in Matthew 6:9-13:
Pray like this:
Our Father in heaven,
may your name be kept holy.
May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven.
Give us today the food we need,
and forgive us our sins,
as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
And don’t let us yield to temptation,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Lord, let us honor YOU above all and anyone else. Please come quickly and take us with you to your Kingdom. Please give us wisdom to discern your will on earth. Provide our basic necessities, and forgive us like we have forgiven others. Give us the strength to follow you at all costs and overcome temptation. Save us from death and satan’s tricks.
I think it’s pretty obvious from only those two (of thousands) passages from the Bible what we should pray for and how. I also think reading these prayerfully, it becomes quite clear that prayer changes us – the way we think, how we go about our day, our interactions with others…
If I am praying for the Lord to guide me and give me wisdom, the same troubles and difficulties may come my way…but how I approach them will be different.
If I am praying for God to give me strength to resist the devil, when temptation comes, I am prepared to stand firm.
Recently, God put something on my heart. Something big. Something I didn’t even want to think about talking to Craig about. But the Lord was persistent. The more I sat in prayer with Him…the more I was convinced I just had to talk to Craig…
…Craig reacted in just the way I thought he would. He was totally opposed to what I told him God had put on my heart. I told him I was too…but that the Lord was very strongly speaking to me. We prayed about it more…We studied Scripture and we prayed again.
About two weeks later, Craig came to me and said, “The Lord changed my heart. He is telling me exactly the same thing as He’s been telling you.”
Still, this calling was/is not what neither Craig nor I would have chosen for ourselves, but prayer gave us peace with God’s plan. It provided understanding about how this would be possible. It allowed us the wisdom we needed to hear Him.