The prayer for wisdom
There's a question. Is the prayer for wisdom in conflict with the prayer for humility? It follows a logical train of thought, that wisdom would enlarge one's ego and therefore collide with a heartfelt desire for humility. On a deeper level, however, there's really no conflict in the prayer for humility and the prayer for wisdom. It may be a another subtle distinction or a quibbling over words. But, the prayer for spiritual wisdom and knowledge is totally theo-centric, that is, centered in the person and character of God. To ask God for wisdom or knowledge is not an egocentric request, one that would raise the identity bar on the one offering the prayer. Because it is a God focused prayer request, it doesn't clash with the prayer for a humble spirit. A humble person can be a wise, knowledgeable person too.
There's an important distinction in the difference between the spiritual attributes of God given wisdom and knowledge and that generated by human achievement. Certainly there's a case for both in this life. Think about it---
Spiritual wisdom and knowledge
These are endowments of God given to his people for living a God directed life.
They enable a pursuit of righteousness and provide parameters for a life that
would be pleasing in God's sight. This wisdom enables discernment and sound
judgment. Spiritual knowledge is factual truth about how the world works,
human nature, and the Scriptural basis for life.
Human wisdom and knowledge
In the human system, which is also substantiated by Scripture, wisdom involves
the lessons of life gained by experience. This knowledge is the linear gathering of
information as we live life. People living outside of God's spiritual guidance can
be both wise and knowledgeable in a worldly sense.
The prayer for spiritual wisdom and knowledge
Solomon sincerely asked God for both when he prayed as the mantle of government was laid on his shoulders. He prayed---
Give me wisdom and knowledge, that I may lead this people, for who is able to
govern this great people of yours?
2 Chronicles 1:10, NIV
This young king desired spiritual wisdom and knowledge to guide the people of Israel, and God granted that prayer (see 2 Chronicles 1:12). Once again, it is thought that this spiritual knowledge is what Solomon needed to lead the nation, and spiritual wisdom was the discernment to apply that knowledge in Godly ways. Millennia later Solomon is remembered as the wisest man who ever lived.
In a world of fifty shades of gray these distinctions about God's endowments and human achievement are often lost. Contemporary ideals picture wisdom as the counsel and advice of the aged and knowledge as the gathering of facts and information. And the lines separating the two are often blurred, especially in times of stress like this election season. There are many individuals with knowledge about the electoral college, the United States Constitution, our voting processes, the flaws of the candidates, erosion of the two party system, special interest groups and factions, the branches of government, the SCOTUS, and so many other factual elements affecting our votes on November 8. Culture, however, on the whole, equates this knowledge in the spiritual category, making voting decisions based on accumulated knowledge and perhaps the learned lessons of life rather than the spiritual direction of God.
Let me comment. Spiritual wisdom and knowledge are from God. Scripture affirms this truth in many references. Here are three as examples---
For the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding;
Proverbs 2:6, ESV
But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge.
1 John 2:20, ESV
I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers, that the
God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of
wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts
enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you,
what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.
Ephesians 1:16-18, ESV
James advised his readers to ask God for spiritual wisdom if they lacked it.
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without
reproach, and it will be given him.
James 1:5, ESV
There are warnings about human wisdom and knowledge, however. The dangers of human knowledge and wisdom were a significant theme in Paul's letter to the Corinthians. Paul admonished his readers about the egocentric nature of worldly wisdom and knowledge---
For the wisdom of this world is folly with God.
1 Corinthians 3:19
This “knowledge” puffs up.
1 Corinthians 8:1, ESV
And, that's why we should be asking God for spiritual wisdom and knowledge in this election cycle, and all other considerations in life, for that matter. In 18 days we'll be electing the individual who will lead this nation for the next four years, perhaps eight. There's plenty of information and knowledge and factual data out there competing for our allegiance, favor, and ultimately our votes. The prayer for humility positions each of us to receive the spiritual knowledge and wisdom to be Godly stewards of that precious franchise. Adding to that spirit, the prayer for wisdom seeks his guidance in applying that knowledge and all those facts in a Godly manner.
So, every day till November 8 I'm spending time in the prayer closet before I enter the voting booth. The prayer time is very focused: prayers for the humility to remain teachable till that day, and prayers for spiritual wisdom and knowledge that honors the Kingdom and seeks the spiritual best for the nation.
Will you join me?