1 Kings 3:6-9 (Oxford Study Bible): 6)He answered, ‘You have shown great and constant love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in loyalty, righteousness, and integrity of heart; and you have maintained this great and constant love towards him and now you have given him a son to succeed him on the throne. 7)‘Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, though I am a mere child, unskilled in leadership. 8)Here I am in the mist of your people, the people of your choice, too many to be numbered or counted. 9)Grant your servant, therefore, a heart with skill to listen, so that he may govern your people justly and distinguish good from evil. Otherwise who is equal to the task of governing this great people of yours?’
It is hard to reflect on these verses and not yearn for political leaders who are humble and ask for the heart (and patience) to listen.
Solomon was chosen to succeed his father David in leading Israel. He wasn’t arrogant. When God spoke to him, he first took the time to acknowledge the love and relationship David, his father, had with God. Solomon stated his concern, he is now the King of Israel without leadership experience. He tells God what he wants: a heart that will listen and to govern Israel justly.
Such verses remind me prayers in the Bible are rarely vague, “God, let Your will be done.” I learned early in life God’s Will will always be done. When we pray, we should be specific. Tell God what will comfort your heart or what you think you want. He knows the future and the past. We may be best served by God answering our prayers; we may be better off if God does not grant our prayer. We should accept God’s answer, whether it’s what we asked for or not.
In my personal life, I am troubled by two times my prayers were not answered. In both instances, we did not state specifically how we yearned for God to answer our prayers. My best friend fell from his mother’s pickup truck when he was 14 and hit his head. Within a few days, his brain started to swell and surgery was performed. He was placed in a medically-induced coma. We were attending a Christian school at the time. The students of the school and their churches were all praying for my friend, Hamp. Too often, school leaders and teachers would pray for God’s will to be done in Hamp’s life. We all wanted Hamp to live. Hamp was an amazing young man always seeking to help others. However, leaders seemed to be scared to ask for Hamp’s healing. Unfortunately, God’s will did not see fit to heal my friend. He died in the hospital at 14.
Five years later, my mother was battling cervical cancer. My mother was an interpreter for the deaf at our evangelical church. I remember my mother being sat in the middle of the sanctuary surrounded by my father and me. The church was offered the opportunity to lay hands on her if they chose. Several hundred people formed a circle around us. The pastor anointed her with oil and asked for “God’s will to be done.” I did not have the courage to ask the pastor to pray again, specifically asking for my mother’s health to be restored and the cancer to be removed so she could continue translating for the deaf. Granted, I was 18 at the time. I considered asking the pastor to pray again or to pray aloud myself. She died a year later. She was 48. I was 19. I still vividly remember this life moment.
As we journey through Lent together, I encourage you to be like Solomon. Ask God specifically what you, a child of God, are seeking. Be grateful to God whatever his answer.
Here’s a prayer for today:
Holy One, give us the courage to ask. Give us the courage to listen. Amen.
Kevin Hovis is a beloved Immanuel member now geographically separated from our community. We give thanks for his continued participation in the work of our church through this devotional.