Learning to Pray like Solomon

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 great people?
-Solomon (circa 970 B.C.)

I imagine Solomon to be standing in the middle of one of the great rooms of his house as he prayed this. The expanse of the room and the large stone walls throwing his voice around and echoing his prayer back to him. I imagine his heart was pounding in rapid succession, his stomach was swirling around in knots and sweat was beading on his temples despite the cold air blowing through the open windows. I imagine he looked as small as he felt in that immense room.

I imagine him to be scared to death.

Solomon had recently taken his seat upon the throne to rule Israel. He had watched his father lead a group of venomous people who would turn from a loyal son or confidant to a power hungry enemy in an instant. No doubt he had heard stories of his father running for his life from a king with a death warrant with David’s name on it. The job of a king is no walk in the park.

Yet there he stood, riddled with fear and grief, the weight of the kingdom on his shoulders and what does he ask from God?

Wisdom.

Solomon prays that God will give him wisdom, “an understanding mind to govern his people”, the ability to know what is good and what is evil.

Had it been me, I would have been begging God to make things easy for me, to help me judge the people without fear or anxiety. I would have been asking him to make the decisions feel easy to make. I would have asked him to help me to not care so much about the people so that the judgments wouldn’t feel so complicated. I would be praying that God would send someone else, anyone else to do this crazy hard job.

The thing I noticed about his prayer was that instead of asking God to give him the easy way out, he asked God to give him what he knew he needed to be able to do what God had called him to do. He knew that God had placed him in this position. He knew that ultimately it was God who put him on the throne – not Bathsheba, not Nathan, not the people – but God. And he knew that without God directing his judgments he would make a mess of things.

He prayed for wisdom so that he might be able to fulfill the calling God had placed on his life.

I want to learn to pray like Solomon. I want to be the kind of person who trusts God enough that I will pray for him to give me everything I need to be able to do everything He has called me to be and do. I want to be the kind of person who doesn’t try to get out of something because it makes me uncomfortable.

I want to be the kind of person who walks forward and trusts my shaking, quaking knees, churning stomach, and sweating brow to the One for whom it is worth shaking, quaking and sweating.

A birthday party without the birthday girl.

For my twenty-third birthday, my sweet sister threw me the most incredible surprise birthday party ever. I mean, EPIC. All of my favorite people, favorite foods, the most beautiful 7 layer chocolate birthday cake, great music, oh my! The house was decorated with streamers and balloons and buzzing with great party fun.

But I remember it best because I never actually made it to the party.

My sneaky sister did such a great job of making sure that I would be surprised, that I had no idea there was something in the works and headed out of town.

But as all true party people know, the party must go on. Birthday girl, or no, they were not missing a chance to spend a night with great people and great food. They all recorded me a video telling me how much they were loving the party and too bad I couldn’t be there.

A birthday party without the birthday girl.

I feel like I do this with God all the time. I create the perfect environment: great music, dimmed lights to a soft golden glow, super snuggly blanket, a great pen and pencil, and a hot cup of coffee. Everything is perfect. Until I realize that I spent 20 minutes getting all set up and forgot to invite the guest of honor.

I spend the majority of my time with the Lord on me. Not only do I spend ridiculous amounts of time making sure I am super comfortable, I spend an embarrassing amount of time telling God about all the things I am frustrated with, bored with, in need of, and desirous of. After I have sufficiently made a case for God to arrange my life around me so that I will feel zero pain or anxiety, I thank him, blow him a kiss and head off to work.

It’s not that I think that asking God for things is wrong. I think it’s right and good to talk to God about the details of my life and my heart. But if I’m not careful, I will begin to believe that God should be designing my world, my life, my day to look the way I want it to instead of the way He wants it to.

Matthew Henry said that prayer should look like this:

Let not self, carnal self, be the spring and centre of your prayers, but God; let the eye of the soul be fixed upon him as your highest end in all your applications to him; let this be the habitual disposition of your souls, to be to your God for a name and a praise; and let this be your design in all your desires, that God may be glorified, and by this let them all be directed, determined, sanctified, and, when need is overruled.

Lord, help the eye of my soul be fixed upon you.