My mentor and I have been talking a lot about prayer, and focusing on asking God for what we really want. We’re learning not to stuff our prayer time with bland phrases such as “Be with me” or “Watch over me.” Are you guilty of lifting up those phrases because they sound solid? Me too.
In 1 Kings 3, Solomon dreams that God tells him to ask for whatever he wants. Solomon has just gotten married. He’s the king of the Israelites. He’s a spiritual leader for his nation. He could ask for heirs, for more wealth, or for his enemies to be eliminated. Instead, he asks for wisdom:
“Solomon answered, ‘You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day. Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. 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?'”
1 Kings 3:6-9 NIV
God was so pleased with this request – Hey, someone who gets my desire for my people to be ever more perfect! – that He gave Solomon a sense of justice and discernment that has never been replicated in anyone since, along with all the wealth, protection, honor and health Solomon didn’t ask for.
My birthday is this week, and instead of a birthday gift list, I’ve been inspired by the story of Solomon to think about what I really want from life and from God. Here’s what I have so far:
A life with purpose: I dislike being bored, and one of my fears is looking back in my life and saying, “What was I DOING all those years? Nothing important?!” I think that’s why I continue to find ways to serve others through work and volunteering. Wanting to do something important with my life is also why I feel averse to quitting work once we have kids. My current purpose, satisfaction and identity lies in large part in my career. It’s hard to imagine a purposeful life outside of this career that is the culmination of years of school, extracurriculars, seminars, camps and extra reading.
But I believe God is continually evolving my purpose (Ephesians 2:10). When I look back at my life I see God’s handprint on every door that opened to me and His breath on every window I’ve had to push myself through when the door was closed. I haven’t liked everything God has done in my life but it has all been for my good. As long as I keep praying to hear His calling I’ll never be bored. (Galatians 5:13)
To smartly steward the gifts God has given me: He’s a good father who has given me a stellar education, a comfortable lifestyle, placement in a country where it’s ok to be female, a fantastic home, a loving spouse, a creative mind… I have so much that I’m grateful for, and I can’t keep it all for myself. I feel obligated to work hard to use the education I have. My dream is to be one half of a marriage partnership that is messy but a solid example of love. I want our cozy home to be a retreat for anyone who needs rest. I want to use my talents and skills compassionately for the improvement of our community. So, my prayers need to be requests for God to show me how I can continually use His riches in the best way possible, because I believe the richest life isn’t totally measured in money but mostly in the potential I reach (1 Timothy 6:11-16).
To have the support of deeply rooted believers, and to offer my strength in faith to others in turn: Goes along with my desire to serve. I am surrounded by such strong, independent, faithful, respected, intelligent determined women and men right now and I hope it stays that way. These people have said, “I am a child of God and I will stand firm on this rock of faith.” I hope to never leave their vine (John 15:1-5) and to be the shade someone else needs in the future.
That’s all for now. What would you ask for?