“A Modern Prayer for Wisdom” (source)
Father, take me to the place
where I am saved from my pride and arrogance
and Christ’s humility is centre stage,
where I’m lifting up clean hands
and a pure heart to You.
Take me to the place
where I’m no longer looking at the mountains I face
but looking down upon them,
where I can see clearly and my decisions are flooded
with Your light, truth and justice.
I bend my knee and receive Your truth
I open my ears to receive Your counsel
I open my heart to receive Your eternal wisdom.
Dear friend, do what I tell you;
treasure my careful instructions.
Do what I say and you’ll live well.
My teaching is as precious as your eyesight—guard it!
Write it out on the back of your hands;
etch it on the chambers of your heart.
Talk to Wisdom as to a sister.
Treat Insight as your companion.
They’ll be with you to fend off the Temptress—
that smooth-talking, honey-tongued Seductress. (Proverbs 7:1-5, MSG)
When it comes to the pursuit of wisdom, and the longing to live a life that is led and governed by wisdom, this passage makes a crucial point: the pursuit of wisdom is an aggressive pursuit, leaving no room for coasting or a casual approach.
“Treasure my careful instructions,” says the Lord.
Hold God’s teaching closely. Love God’s ways and respect them.
“Do what I say and live well. My teaching is as precious as your eyesight–guard it!”
Study God’s ways, and study some more. Make sure you remember and never forget, so that you may live well. Not just live, but live well… that you may flourish, that your relationships may be fruitful, that your joy may flow and your hope and love be abundant.
This is God’s deep desire for his children. This is what he wants for us, and he has given us the secret to achieving this fullness of life: a daily, wholehearted chasing after the knowledge of God through studying his word and living in communion with God’s Spirit.
Which leads me to today’s passage for reflection. I have read this passage many times before, but this week what has really impressed me is this: “Talk to Wisdom as to a sister. Treat Insight as your companion.”
When it comes to my prayer life as it relates to wisdom, I so often find myself asking God for wisdom. “Lord, fill me with wisdom. Give me wisdom. Teach me wisdom…” But this passage suggests a different way to pray. Rather than an appeal to God for something, we are invited to speak directly to Wisdom, who is also God, as if she were our sister. “Wisdom, my sister, here’s what’s going on. I would love your help. I would love your insight. What do you think? What am I missing here?” This passage from the Word of God refers to Wisdom as “a sister.” I wonder why that is?
I don’t have a sister, but I have friends who are like sisters, and one of the things they offer me in friendship is a beautiful gift for listening and helping me process things. I’ve experienced this several times just this week. My family flew to Phoenix on Wednesday to visit my husband’s relatives, and I am so fortunate that among them are several women who are like sisters to me. And the best “sister-like” conversations I have had seem to be ones where my sister-friend listens to me, nodding, smiling, encouraging, possibly pushing back a bit, but ultimately leading me to what I already know from having studied God’s word for so many years. Whether we are talking about child rearing or marriage, time management or health, God’s truth lives in my heart because I have devoted myself to studying it for so long. It’s just that sometimes I need help accessing it.
Because, while I have studied and planted God’s word deep my in my heart, I often forget. My sin, my pride, my need to control, my need to be right erupts and all godliness, all wisdom, goes out the door. I think it’s a universal human condition, and I think it’s why God was so emphatic that we not take a casual approach to growing in wisdom. “Treasure my careful instructions… guard my words…” When I pray to Wisdom as if talking with a sister, I am brought back to the deep well that has been being filled with God’s word for years.
Just this week, these nuggets of wisdom have emerged from prayer-conversations I’ve had with Wisdom, my sister, in my heart:
- Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it (Proverbs 22:6, ESV), after growing discouraged by feeling like all I do some days is discipline my children.
- Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil (Ephesians 4:26-27), after a harsh conversation with my husband right before bed.
- Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God (Philippians 4:4-6, NIV), when I was feeling judged by others and defensive. Rather than getting riled up and building my case against my imaginary prosecutors, I prayed and handed them over to God, leaving me free to love–gently and graciously.
There’s more that I could share, but I think you get the point. Oftentimes, the wisdom we need to find is already in our hearts, and praying to Wisdom, as this passage instructs, can help us access the garden of truth that is in our hearts from time spent in God’s word.
Just to clarify: Wisdom is not automatically inside us. Our natural inclinations and ways are often very contrary to God’s ways. I do not believe that every person already has the truth, or the wisdom, inside of them. The truth gets inside of us by studying God’s word and learning God’s ways. Remember Isaiah 55:8-10, which says:
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (NIV)
By devoting ourselves to studying the Bible, allowing time and space for God’s teaching to be planted in our hearts, and living in communion with Wisdom, talking with her as a sister–frequently, intentionally, vulnerably, honestly, and unguardedly– we are on a path toward embodying God’s admonition to treasure God’s instructions, do what he says, and enjoy an abundant life.
Take some time this week to think about what it means to talk to Wisdom “as a sister.” Then practice praying that way, in conversation with Wisdom God. Invite her to draw out godly wisdom from your heart. Read the Bible and invite Wisdom to illuminate what God wants most for you to live into.