Praying Wisely


A couple in their sixties was walking along the beach when they spied an object hidden in the sand. They uncovered it, knocked the sand off, and identified it as an old, old lamp. Before they knew it — POOF! — a genie had appeared to grant them three wishes.
They would like to travel the world they tell him and POOF!—the tickets are in their hands. They’ll need some money to do this and POOF! — the cash is in their hands. They couldn’t really decide what to ask for with their last request and then the husband said, “I think it would be great if my wife was thirty years younger than me,” and POOF! — he’s turned into a ninety-year-old!
Be careful what you ask for.
David had died and his son, Solomon, had become king of Israel. He had gone to Gibeon and offered up sacrifices to the Lord when God appeared to him in a dream and told him, “Ask whatever you want Me to give you,” (1 Kings 3:5). This is as close to a genie request as we’ll find in the Scripture. In light of that, it’s instructive to notice how Solomon responded to it.
He began by expressing his appreciation to God for all that He had done for his father, David, and for him (v. 6). Gratitude is always appropriate. Then, he acknowledged the magnitude of the responsibility of being ruler over Israel and what a great challenge that represented in terms of his current skill set. (Humility never hurts either). With that in mind, he asked God for “a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong,” (v. 9).
It was a great request and God was pleased with it (v. 10). He praised Solomon because he did not ask for self-directed things (wealth, long life, the death of his enemies), but for something that would enable him to serve others. Remembering that God had prepared David for the kingship by having him serve in Saul’s court and his son now asked for something related to helping others, we see the linkage between kingship and service reaffirmed. Those who sat on the throne were to understand that power was to be used for service not status. (A lesson that would be sadly be lost on Solomon’s son, Rehoboam – 1 Kings 12).
And it all started with prayer. It not only makes a difference that we pray but in what we choose to pray about and for. How proud is God of our prayers? Do we think about what we ask Him for, or do we just ask without thinking? Here are some “wise” prayer areas the Scripture directs us toward:

  • the knowledge of His will through all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives (Colossians 1:9-10),
  • that we will be wise in the way we act toward those who don’t know the Lord (Colossians 4:5-6),
  • wisdom in handling trials we or others face (James 1:5ff).
    Let’s pray wisely!

Bruce has written a book on the model pray called Praying in the Reign. It is available through 21st Century Christian.