When You Don't Ask For Enough
But the man purported to be the wisest man that the world has ever known made at least one fatal mistake: He didn’t ask God for enough, nor did he ask soon enough.
In 1 Kings 3 we have the record of Solomon’s prayer to God when he asks the Lord to give him wisdom.
“Now, O 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?” (3:7-9)
That prayer was a smart one. God responded to it by blessing Solomon with extraordinary wisdom—so much wisdom that Solomon’s fame spread throughout the world of that day, and continues to be a much quoted example today.
But Solomon had already made a fatal mistake, one that he would repeat throughout his reign. Apparently before he asked the Lord for wisdom to govern, the Scriptures record this: “Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter…” (3:1) She would not be the first foreign and pagan woman in Solomon’s life. The end result would be that Solomon himself would be turned away from following the Lord wholeheartedly because of the influence of these women (1 Kings 11:1-6). The people would follow his example in worship and the kingdom would be tore in two as punishment for the evil done (1 Kings11:29-33).
As I thought about this passage this morning a verse from the New Testament came forcefully to mind. I sometimes think that my prayers are greedy—that I am asking too much, but the story of Solomon reminded me that we actually don’t ask enough—of the right things. James 4:1-3 says: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” The passages goes on to talk about friendship with the world and how that friendship blocks our relationship with the Lord.
Solomon didn’t ask God for enough. He asked for wisdom to rule the nation but he didn’t ask for wisdom to rule his own passions. He knew he was not to make foreign alliances or to marry pagan women. That was SOP (Standard Operating Procedure) for God’s people, a rule set down from the time of Moses. So he didn’t go where he didn’t want God to meddle when he asked God for wisdom.
As I look at my own prayer life I realize that I often do something similar. I ask for wisdom or help or direction when it comes to some things, but there are other areas that aren’t covered. I’ve never asked Him to keep me out of the grocery store when my craving for junk food gets extreme. I like my junk food—perhaps as much as Solomon liked his women!
James tells us that we don’t have because we don’t ask and we often don’t ask because we really don’t want God to touch those areas of our lives.
Solomon paid. And so will I. And so will all of us if we don’t lay every area of our lives down on the altar and ask God to give us wisdom to act righteously in all of them. James says that God gives grace to those who will put everything down before Him in humble submission (4:6, 7, 10).
The women were a serious matter. But my doctor will tell you that the junk food is too. I think my prayers need to get a whole lot more greedy for the right things than they have been. How about yours?