“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?”—1 Kings 3:9
At the beginning of his long reign, God gave Solomon an invitation to ask for whatever he wanted. “Ask what I shall give you,” the Lord told him. Solomon prayed for the gift of wisdom—the gift of discernment or the ability to make the best choice when confronted with a number of options. God commended Solomon for not asking for a long life, nor riches, nor for the life of his enemies, but rather for requesting an understanding heart. God was very pleased and promised that Solomon would get what he asked for. Today, we still benefit from Solomon’s wisdom when we read the book of Proverbs, most of which was written by him.
Clearly, God takes delight in giving us wisdom when confronted with difficult choices. I’ve discovered that even in situations such as when I’m talking on the phone, I have silently claimed the promise, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” (James 1:5). And when we ask in faith, God gives us the wisdom we need at that particular moment.
There are, however, some basic requirements for having our prayer answered. First, James says we have to ask in faith; we have to believe that God will actually give wisdom as generously as He has promised. Wavering unbelief only perpetuates more uncertainty.
Second, it’s clear that we have to be willing to obey the wisdom God gives us. I’ve frequently asked mismatched couples if they sought God’s wisdom before they married. Often they said “no, we just assumed it was God’s will” or they didn’t ask for wisdom because they feared that God would say no to what they wanted to do. That’s not the way we get wisdom from God. Tragically, later in life Solomon himself turned away from the Lord and chose the path of sensual desire rather than the more difficult and honorable path of wisdom.
Finally, the question is: How does God’s wisdom come to us? The wise path is, first and foremost, consistent with the Scriptures. Beyond that, wisdom comes through peace in our minds and hearts that we’re doing the right thing; or wisdom often comes to us through the counsel of another person who God puts in our path. Often, it’s simply making a decision in faith and giving God an opportunity to stop us if we are wrong. He can close or open doors as He leads those who are willing to be led.
Let us pray for wisdom for ourselves or for someone you know who is facing difficult decisions.
Let Us Pray
Father, I pray that You might give me a heart of wisdom. I pray that I will always make wise choices; and when two paths seem to be equal, I pray You will help me to trust You even as I make my decision. Give me a heart that is willing to obey You, to respond in faith to the wisdom You give me.
I pray for _______ that they might have a heart of wisdom. Keep them from ungodly counsel that seems good, but will, in the end, be destructive. Keep them from following the path of least resistance, and from friends who would lead them astray. Teach them, even as You teach me, that the wise path is often the most difficult path, but in the end, it’s the most rewarding. Direct our paths, O Lord, for we are like sheep who are prone to stray. Make us lovers of wisdom.
In Jesus’ name, Amen.