August 17, 2014: Be Careful What You Pray For

Let us pray: Dear Savior, although we are surrounded by countless temptations which our pride is attracted to, we are thankful that You have provided us an antidote to it all in the form of Solomon’s prayer. So, we, too, ask for the gift of good judgment or discernment in all of our decision making. Thereby You will be glorified, our neighbor will be blest, and we will reap what we sow. Amen

GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE GIVER OF EVERY GOOD AND PERFECT GIFT!

TEXT: I Kings 3: 5-12

Dearly Beloved By Christ:

You’re not quite 20 years old. You’ve been put in charge of the nation with absolute power to do anything you want. The world is your oyster. In your ascension to this throne of power there was a bloody coup. The rival faction of your dead brother sought to have you killed. But, by God’s grace you overcame them all and now here you are: on top. God comes to you and says: “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” What would you ask for? What would your prayer be, knowing that God Almighty would grant it? The list of possibilities, and their attendant temptations is boundless, isn’t it? This was the young Solomon’s situation.

His answer is nothing short of amazing—especially when you consider that he didn’t have a lot of time to think about it in advance. God’s offer to him came literally “out-of-the-blue.” So, Solomon’s response is really from the heart. It reveals his character and moral fiber. “You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.” This answer from the son of David and Bathsheba! This from the son who was born after David fell into adultery with Bathsheba and the child born from that sexual sin died! Solomon knew this family history. Yet, he lauds his father and David’s allegiance to God. Yes, Solomon knew all about David’s repentance. He knew all about his mother’s repentance. And he knew that all of God’s favor towards them and him resulted from grace alone. They believed in the coming Savior and clung to Him in order to escape God’s wrath. So, Solomon learned the true nature of God’s undeserved love in Christ from his parents’ knee. For a 20-ish young man, he’s humble. And as Jesus later says: “God humbles the proud and exalts the humble.” Hence, God’s offer.

I

What would you pray for in a similar situation? Well, here is what Solomon asks: “Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in the place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?”

Did you catch the tone of this prayer? Solomon is totally honest about Himself and gives all glory to God for everything. His situation isn’t about him, it’s about God’s people and doing right by them for God’s glory. And the discerning heart he asks for will be the chief tool to enable all this to occur. Yes, right here Solomon keeps both the 1st and 2nd table of the Law: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Aside from the Lord’s prayer, which basically does the same thing, there is no better prayer in all Scripture uttered by a human! And, as I said earlier, it’s simply amazing. Be honest, what would you pray for in similar circumstances? Most of us would ask for health, wealth, happiness, or even freedom from our enemies via God’s power. Those types of prayers are self-centered, aren’t they? They put “me”—my wants and needs– above all others. They are also very short-sighted. Once wealth is achieved, what then? Once happiness is attained, will it always be retained? Once health is given, will you never grow old and experience everything that goes with it? And as to enemies, well, there will always be new ones who will arise.

No, this is an amazing prayer because it will keep on bearing fruit throughout a lifetime. If you possess a discerning heart, you’ll end up with all the other wants and desires of your heart. You’ll make good stock choices (wealth), good health choices, you’ll be content in that you won’t suffer the upset of regret or second-guessing, and you’ll avoid the pitfalls enemies lay in your path.

In our modern society, wisdom, or a discerning heart, is seldom valued. We’re into glitz and glam. But a wise man who is at peace with himself and more importantly, with God, is far richer than Bill Gates or Warren Buffet. And such wisdom begins and ends with adherence to God and faith in Jesus Christ. It is founded on grace—God giving us total forgiveness for all sins in Christ—as a free gift. As the Psalmist says: “The fear, respect, of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.” Solomon had it. And through faith, you can, too.

II

God loves the young king’s answer! Remember that when you pray! “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 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.” Think about that for a moment. Solomon was wiser than Adam, Moses, Elijah, David, Peter and St. Paul. No wonder the kingdom of Israel reached its pinnacle under his reign! And all this because in his request, Solomon was selfless, more concerned about others than himself.

From God’s answer, it’s clear that none of us will exceed Solomon when it comes to wisdom. But that doesn’t mean we cannot be similarly blest. Right now each of you is on the pathway towards such wisdom. You all respect God and love and trust in Him above all things.—That’s the “beginning” part of “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of all wisdom.” Armed with that beginning, pray for more wisdom. Pray for a discerning heart which sees beyond the superficial and into the core nature of people, events, situations, and opportunities. Pray for a heart that isn’t afraid to put the eternal well-being of others before your own likes or dislikes. And then act upon the wisdom God grants you. If you do, your life will be rich and full beyond measure. If you do, you’ll never lack for the really important stuff of life. St. Peter says that: “The prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.” That’s a promise of God to you. So, BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU PRAY FOR. Amen