Have you ever thought about what you would ask for, if you knew that one thing would be granted to you? I admit to thinking about this as a child, probably inspired by stories about “three wishes”. (Of course, most kids figure out that the secret is to wish for more wishes.) Today, offers of infinite power or unlimited luxury are offered by everyone from self-help authors to advertising experts (not explicitly, but pretty much the same thing as the genie or super-villain offers in the movies).
Fantasy aside, though, at least one person in the history of the world was actually asked this question by God (who, as creator of the universe, did have the ability to do whatever He was asked):
That night God appeared to Solomon and said to him, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”
2 Chronicles 1:7 NIV
I don’t read this as God guaranteeing to do whatever Solomon asked, but I also know that God knew what Solomon would choose. In fact, I think that God’s answers to our prayers have a lot to do with the condition of our heart. When we are aligned with God’s guidance, and our hearts are open to accept that “His will be done”, our prayers are more likely to be in line with His plan, and amazing things can happen in God’s answers to them.
Let’s take a look at Solomon’s reply:
Solomon answered God, “You have shown great kindness to David my father and have made me king in his place. Now, LORD God, let your promise to my father David be confirmed, for you have made me king over a people who are as numerous as the dust of the earth. Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to govern this great people of yours?”
2 Chronicles 1:8-10 NIV
I wonder if Solomon paused for a moment and thought about his reply? Whether or not he did, there is already wisdom in his response, here. Solomon acknowledges God’s promise to David, as well as God’s faithfulness in keeping that promise by having Solomon be king. (Don’t forget that this was the first time that rule had been passed down from one family member to another in the history of this kingdom.)
In the end, though, Solomon’s request is pretty simple. He’s asking for help to do a good job in the role that God has placed him in. We usually focus on Solomon’s request for wisdom, and James 1 reminds us that we should also request wisdom in our own lives, but this is a good reminder to us that we should also ask for God’s help in whatever task He has given us.
- Parents (and grandparents) should ask for God’s help to raise and lead their children (and their grandchildren) well.
- Employees should ask for God’s help to exemplify Christ-likeness on the job, and also to do good work.
- Students should ask for God’s help to learn and grow in their understanding of God’s creation, as well as how they can best use their God-given skills. (Praying for a good grade on a test that you haven’t studied for might be a stretch, though, although I’m pretty sure that God still hears those prayers.)
- We could – and perhaps should – pray for God’s help every time we get behind the wheel of a car, step into a store, enter into a worship service, make a phone call, or compose an e-mail.
Whatever God has called you to do each day, do the very best that you can with His help, and don’t be afraid to ask for His power to make the results supernaturally successful. (On the other hand, when you listen for His direction, sometimes He might tell you to do something else entirely.)
Now, I realize that pastors and teachers remind us (correctly) that God is not a vending machine (nor is He a genie or Santa Claus), where we can just ask for what we want and get it. However, we do serve a great God with power over everything in the universe, and we find in passages like John 14:12-14 and John 16:23-24 that Jesus told His disciples to ask Him (or God the Father) for “anything”.
Since Jesus told us that “everyone who asks receives” (see Matthew 7:7-8), I think that we should probably get a lot bolder in our prayers (see James 4:2-3). Are there big, impossible things that you need to ask God for today, along with big faith that God can literally do those things? It may not look exactly the same as what was offered to Solomon, but it appears that followers of Jesus have a similar offer from God. Let us seek to fill our respective roles for God with His awesome power behind us.
May our hearts be right, and may our responses – our prayers – be as wise as Solomon’s was.
From Sunday School lesson prepared for July 4, 2021
- The Lookout, July 4, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.