Sunday, May 16, 2010

A good prayer, and a great one

In 1 Kings 3, King Solomon gets an astonishing offer from the Lord: At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” (1 Kings 3:5, NIV). Solomon asks for wisdom and God commends him:
"I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. 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?"

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."

from 1 Kings 3:7-12
Not a bad prayer! Looking back at Solomon's life, though, it seems that he may have done better to ask God for a heart that would remain fully commited to the Lord.

I was reminded of Solomon's prayer during today's sermon, when our pastor read a quote from William Temple:

"Pray for me, I ask you, not chiefly that I may be wise and strong... But pray for me chiefly that I may never let go of the unseen hand of the Lord Jesus...." (more here)

(Temple was Archbishop of Canterbury for a few years in the 1940s.) Solomon's prayer was good, but this one was better.

Not only was Temple's the better prayer, it's also a better model for me:

Pray for me chiefly that I may never let go of the unseen hand of the Lord Jesus and may live in daily fellowship with him.
This would be a great thing to pray for me, for your pastors and deacons and elders -- for any friend who knows the Lord. And a great thing for them to pray on your behalf, too.

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