What I'm asking God for...
Last week the Church of The Highlands, located here in Birmingham, began a period of prayer and fasting which would last for three weeks. This period is simply and fittingly referred to as Twenty-One Days of Prayer. Having taken part in Twenty-One Days this past summer (without the fasting), during which I had experienced a tremendous amount of spiritual growth, I had been eagerly looking forward to the first day, January 10th.
So I sit here today, having just returned from church, on the ninth of those twenty-one days, pondering what it is that I most want to share with you. I could talk about giving up desires of the flesh, by fasting from meats, caffeine, sweets, breads, and dairy products. There’s rolling out of bed at 5:00 A.M. Monday through Friday to attend the prayer service at 6:00, gathering with hundreds of other people chasing after God. There’s the amount of spiritual growth that God has blessed me with during this first week. All of these topics may be the core of another day’s post, but not this one.
Today I want to talk about my expectations going into this period of prayer and fasting. Well, not necessarily my expectations, but more of what I was going to pray to God for…what I was going to ask of Him. For weeks leading up to the Twenty-One Days, I had actually been praying to God to give me clarity as to what I should be praying for…
There’s my wife Jackie, and our family, and our business, and those that work in it. I could ask God to help me to be a good husband, father, friend, mentor, and leader. I could pray that God continue to open doors for The Seed of Hope to reach others. I could pray to Him for financial prosperity. I could pray for the needs of others…for our city, our state, our country. I could, quite simply, pray to Him for direction in my life.
It wasn’t that I only had one shot to make it count. I could, and would, offer prayers for all of those things, knowing that God would hear every one of them. But I wanted to go into this period asking God one particular thing for me; my personal request.
I turned to the Bible.
Now, if you know me, you know that I’m not that well-versed in the Bible. I just began reading it a couple of years ago, and in that time, I’ve discovered that it’s the closest thing to having a real conversation with Jesus. So I look to the Word for guidance and direction in my life, and more often than not, I find what I need.
The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord—and he will delight in the fear of the Lord. Isaiah 11:2-3 (NIV)
To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:7-10 (NIV)
I read both of these passages once, twice, and then a third time.
I was going to ask God for the Seven Spirits of the Lord, as found in Isaiah. I was going to ask God for the Gifts of the Spirit, as found in 1 Corinthians. I was going to ask God to favor me with spiritual abundance.
Above all else, I was entering those Twenty-One Days of Prayer seeking God’s wisdom. Did you know that it’s available to all of us, for the asking?
If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does. James 1:5-8 (NIV)
Can you imagine what it would be like to be filled with just a fraction of God’s wisdom?
Quite often I find myself praying for God’s direction, asking Him to guide me through life. As you know, sometimes when we receive directions from others, even from God, we have a difficult time discerning what we have heard.
If we ask God for direction, He may answer by giving us information. If we seek His face, and pray for His wisdom, He will answer us by giving us His mind! What a gift He promises to us…if we will only ask Him for it, with the unwavering belief, the unwavering faith that He will answer!
Filled with His wisdom, the direction that we seek will be easier to find. So will guidance in relationships, business decisions, career moves…every choice that we have to make in life. Again, I ask, can you imagine what it would be like to be filled with a fraction of God’s wisdom?
I entered Twenty-Days of Prayer with the expectation that God would give me some of His wisdom. And I only asked that He would give me what my mind was ready to receive. If God had given me the full dose of what He has shown me in the past three years all at once, I could not have handled it. I don’t believe that any of us can comprehend the depth of His wisdom. Our minds simply are not big enough to wrap themselves around “all of God.” (That’s definitely a topic for another day!)
I can’t tell you the final outcome of this period of prayer and fasting because there are 12 more days to go. I can tell you that I believe that God is taking me to a new level spiritually, and it’s an incredible, almost overwhelming feeling. I feel His presence with me every waking hour, and the fire in me that burns for Him is white-hot! God is amazing.
May I make a suggestion to you? If you haven’t already done so, the next time that you are in prayer, why don’t you take your attention off of a specific need or lack of direction, and instead ask God to give you His wisdom, to fill you with His mind? He promises us that He will.
See you next week.