Wisdom and Revelation
In Ephesians 1v17 Paul begins the first of his two amazing prayers for the Ephesian believers:
“…remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him.”
One hindrance to praying is that we don’t know what to pray. It can feel empty just listing information to God, not knowing what to ask Him for. Since I memorised this verse, I find that I use it a great deal in praying for people. If we consider almost everyone in every situation, whatever else they need to get through, they need wisdom and revelation. Pray for those political leaders who need to respond to the horrors of IS in Iraq & Syria, pray for those battling the spread of Ebola, pray for those called to be leaders in your workplace, community and church. They all need wisdom, they need good foundations to make big decisions.
In our small group this term we are studying Bill Hybels’ excellent book, ‘Making Life Work’, based on Proverbs. And on Monday we discussed the question, ‘what is wisdom?’ It’s a question that I find very helpful, because it focuses me as I pray.
Wisdom is a gift of God. It’s not based on our experiences and learning from our mistakes: that’s hindsight. In the Bible, wisdom comes from above. It’s the foundation God places in our lives to enable us to make good, healthy decisions. We all need to grow in wisdom and we do so not just through reflection, but also through asking God for this gift, just like Solomon did.
We live in a world that wants to make money out of us through advertising which targets our desires and which believes ‘If it feels good, then it must be right’. That isn’t wisdom; in fact in the book of Proverbs that’s foolishness. I am guessing it won’t just me who can recall having acted foolishly based on impulse or desire. The mess this got us into is a very strong argument for asking God for wisdom! Wisdom gives us the maturity to make decisions based on what is right, or the long-term best outcome rather than our selfish, immediate impulses or desires.
Paul doesn’t merely pray for wisdom, but for revelation too. Alongside the foundations of truth, love and wisdom, we also need to hear from heaven; we need God’s revelation too. Life is complicated! Not everything makes sense and we don’t always see the bigger picture. The Bible tells us that God speaks if we’re willing to listen to Him. He is a loving Father who wants to show us things we can’t work out for ourselves. In almost every situation for which we pray, it’s valuable to pray that God will ‘turn on the lights’, revealing a clearer, heavenly perspective on what’s going on to those who need to know.
But Biblical wisdom isn’t just a lump of something we have inside us; Biblical revelation isn’t just information sent from heaven. The verse finishes, ‘in the knowledge of Him.’ The word Paul uses here for knowledge is relational. It’s knowing a person through meeting with them and engaging with them, not just reading their CV or their facebook page. Both are about a connection with God, being led by Him in relationship. The greatest wisdom we can have is to choose to follow and submit to His wisdom by knowing Him and revelation comes through relationship.
Take time this week to pray for those who need wisdom and revelation. Ask God to give it to them and above all for them to know God personally. And let’s pray that we grow in the same.