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Monday, October 12, 2015

Today’s Reading | 1 Kings 3:1-15

Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt; he took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David, until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem. The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the name of the Lord. Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar.

At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?” It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.” Then Solomon awoke; it had been a dream. He came to Jerusalem where he stood before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. He offered up burnt offerings and offerings of well-being, and provided a feast for all his servants. (NRSV)

I wish I were wise enough to ask for wisdom more often.

Years ago someone gave me this prayer to use when expecting a difficult conversation:

Lord, may I hear what I need to hear,
And say what I need to say,
According to your will. Amen.

I think it works for me in part because it reminds me that I do not control the outcome of a conversation. That is, a real conversation, rather than an edict on my part. Or a two-sided soliloquy. Or any other form of speech where I think I’m having a discussion with someone else but am really just trying to get my way.

I don’t make the important decisions singlehandedly, or I shouldn’t anyway. Everything I do is connected to others in some way and it behooves me to consider the effect of my actions. Or, alternatively, to open up room for different possibilities to arise. Sometimes only in my imagination, but sometimes more literally: What do you think I should do? Or: Here’s the situation as I see it. What do you see? Or even, without preconceptions: What is your truth?

And this prayer works for me too because it gives me courage to say things I sometimes don’t want to say. Both in listening and in speaking this prayer settles me into knowing and trusting that the Holy Spirit flows through our days, our lives, our conversations, and our decisions—and the more open we are to that flow, the more room the Spirit has to breathe wholeness and goodness into what we do.

And trusting in the Holy Spirit seems to me the wisest of all possible decisions.

O Lord my God, help me to understand the effects of my actions, possibilities beyond what I have considered, and views different from my own. Help me to be brave and to trust in the Spirit, blowing where it will. Amen.

Written by Anne Ellis, Program Manager for Congregational Life

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