“I have not stopped thanking God for you. I pray for you constantly, asking God, the glorious Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, to give you spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.”
Ephesians 1:16-17 NLT
The Apostle Paul, languishing in his prison cell, was on a different plane. In a different zone. His thoughts were focused on his friends in the Ephesian church. I can just imagine him smiling to himself as he brought into his mind one person after another. And he never stopped thanking God for them. Just as an aside, when was the last time we thanked God for our family and our church friends? Truly, a zone worth spending time in, because God has gifted us with people around us. It might not feel that way sometimes but He did!
Paul continues in these verses by assuring his readers that he constantly prays for them. And not just random prayers, “Please bless …”, but a specifically focused prayer for wisdom. He could have prayed for protection, for finances, for all sorts of things, but he instead narrowed his focus to the topic of spiritual wisdom. This morning the story of Solomon came into my mind from 1 Kings 3. In a dream, God asked Solomon what He could give him. And Solomon’s humble response unfolds in the story, with his request for wisdom. God’s response to Solomon was, “I will give you what you asked for! I will give you a wise and understanding heart such as no one else has had or ever will have! And I will also give you what you did not ask for—riches and fame! No other king in all the world will be compared to you for the rest of your life!”. So Solomon received a double blessing – God was pleased with Solomon’s request. And the memory of this encounter between God and Solomon has coined the phrase, “You’ll need the wisdom of Solomon to sort that issue out” or something similar.
Wisdom appears high up on God’s list of gifts. Without it we cannot function well in this life. And Paul, in praying for the Ephesians, obviously knew that. In that more unstable society he could have prayed for gifts such as protection and security. But it had to be wisdom.
So what is Spiritual Wisdom? It starts with having an effective and intimate relationship with God. From that can come guidance and insights that provide the optimum response and reaction to life’s problems and challenges. But there’s more. As we spend time in God’s presence, getting His take on life events, following His wise paths, we start to understand how He is thinking. We find out that His approach to our fellow inhabitants and situations on this planet is often very different to ours. We find out that our initial responses to the hassles and injustices of life are totally at odds with His, at least for most of the time.
So Paul, in his wisdom-prayers for his dear friends back in Ephesus, knew what they needed. Then, as now, being a Christian was not an easy path to follow. Wisdom is an essential ingredient for the pilgrim. Wisdom will ease the trail before us, helping us to avoid the man-traps and the boulders the enemy will place in our way. Please God, give us wisdom, Your wisdom. Amen.