God once offered a man a blank check, as in, God said to him, "Ask me for W.HA.T.E.V.E.R you want, and I'll give it to you."
That was a GOOD day for that dude!
What he, in turn asks for, is a Masters-level lesson in how to ask God for awesome stuff.
His name is Solomon and here's a quick backstory. In the book of 1 Kings, David, the greatest king in Israel has passed on the mantle of leadership to His son, Solomon.
In earlier chapters, we find a power struggle going on between Solomon and his older brother. God appears to be on Solomon's side, so much so that by the time we get to 1 Kings 3, God has made it possible so that Solomon is legitimately king. In his first year of office, he and God are on such good terms that God shows up in a vision one night and says to Him, “You may ask for whatever you want and I’ll give it to you.”
Let's pause for minute and appreciate this offer.
First of all, this passage has significant spiritual meaning for me because it was the first Bible story I learned as a boy in Sunday school. I was in Nigeria at the time, and my teacher read us the story and asked, “What about you boys, what would you ask God for if He made you such an offer?” I recall running through a mental list of requests that included a new bicycle [like the one Tony, my rich neighbor, had], a giant strawberry frosting cake [which I'd only seen on T.V], and for a gorgeous 11 years old named, Lilly, to love me back.
I eventually settled on the bicycle [mostly cos Lilly was totally into Tony, and his parents could afford a stupid strawberry frosting].
That aside, what I do remember most vividly from that morning is another question the request stirred up in me. I left Church that morning, wondering, “How do I get to a place in my life where God sees me fit to present me a similar offer?”
I'm still working through that question and may really be close to a satisfactory answer [which I'll save for another post tentatively titled, "How to Become a Friend of God"]. For now, let's return to Solomon's moment.
What would YOU have asked for?
Put yourself in his place for a moment. Imagine you’ve just been promoted to an influential leadership position; a CEO, new boss of a large corporation, team leader, crew manager, whatever, what would you have asked for?
Being human, I think it’s safe to say most of us would have asked for something along the lines of record breaking profit margins, a competitive edge, favorable influence, and of course, a giant salary package. Solomon certainly needed all of those things as new king, but surprisingly, none of those come up in his response.
What he says next in verse 6 is the secret to asking God for stuff in a way that He’ll respond. Let me walk you through it step by step so that you can know how to ask God for awesome stuff.
1. SAY "THANK YOU" FOR STUFF YOU ALREADY HAVE
First, Solomon praises God for what God has already done. He actually recounts to God what God already knows, namely that God had graciously been at work in His family through His father David, and that God had graciously opened the door for Him to now sit on that same throne that God gave His Father.
It's as if Solomon was telling God, “Lord, You know You've been good to me. I know You've been good to me. Everybody knows you've been good to me. But I just want you to know that I know that you've been good to me!” This is what praising/thanking God sounds like.
I understand we all need stuff, but when was the last time you paused long enough in your prayer to thank God for the stuff He already gave you? I mean, like actually take your time to walk God through the list of great stuff He’s already blessed you with over the years? It's possible that some of us are not receiving new stuff from God because we haven't paused long enough to thank Him for the great stuff HE ALREADY GAVE US!
2. EAT SOME HUMBLE-PIE
Secondly, please note the humility in verse 7. He tells God, “I am like a little child who doesn’t know his way around.” This says a lot. Solomon is no longer a child, he's a grown man, a king! In fact, he’s already demonstrated a good level of leadership wisdom and capability as king in the previous chapter. But note that he doesn't flash his resume before God! He recognizes that inspire of his power and position, all wisdom and all power comes from God who PUT HIM ON THE THRONE!
This one is quite simple. If you want stuff from God, you need to get on your knees, symbolically and literally. Both acts are indicative that you are desperately in need of God’s leading because He knows more stuff than you do.
I'll let you in on a secret: GOD IS DRAWN TO HUMILITY! If you want to impress God and get Him to offer you a blank check, GET LOW, my friend!
3. THINK BIG (BEYOND JUST YOUR NEEDS)
It is this humility that I believe leads to what Solomon asks for next. Though he asks God to grant him wisdom and understanding on how to lead, what he’s really asking for in verse 8-9 is for the welfare of people he’s about to lead. Hear him, "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?"
In other words, "God, THEY are a people special to your heart, a chosen people, a royal priesthood, the apple of your eye. Teach me to lead and govern THEM in a way that makes them all you have destined THEM to be!"
Here’s the principle I want to draw out here. When you pray, don’t just ask for stuff that will benefit you, but pray for stuff in your life that will help others around you WIN! Whether it’s your family, friends, co-workers, the boss you hate, your gym-buddies, drinking buddies, whoever!
Make your prayers a little bigger than your personal needs. God is a BIG God, with a BIG vision, so go BIG! In fact, I try to make it a point to never end my prayer time without at least praying for someone else other the the people closest to me I love. I'll sometimes just pray for the spiritual atmosphere and for men and women far from God in Morris County.
Try it. You'll find that praying for the needs of others deepens your love for God and grows your passion for God's purpose [not to mention the fact that it pleases God's heart].
When you do these things, thanking God for the stuff He’s already blessed you with, humbling yourself before Him, and asking on behalf of others so they might win, you might find that just like Solomon, God rushes to your doorstep and says, “Hey, because you have humbled yourself before me and have not asked selfishly or out of the wrong motive, but for the benefit of others and with a thankful heart, I will give you what you have sought me for and I’ll even throw in some extra bonus stuff and give even the good stuff you what you have not asked me for!”
This ain't magic, folks! But it certainly reflects the heart of Jesus in His priestly prayer. So essentially, when you pray like this, you not only get stuff back, but you're actually being like Jesus!
Oh, how I pray that you would learn to ask God for stuff in a way that causes God to show up at your doorstep with more eagerness to meet with you than you are to ask Him.
May God make you a man/woman of prayer!