A Leader’s #1 Prayer

Leaders pray for all kinds of things. When dreams outpace the organization’s finances, leaders ask God to release the resources to fund bold new Kingdom initiatives. When workers are lacking, leaders fervently ask God to raise up passionate volunteers who will commit wholeheartedly to the cause. And when roadblocks stand in the way of visionary strategies, leaders unapologetically petition God for breakthrough.

But there’s one prayer that trumps them all. In 1 Kings 3, God asks Solomon in a dream, “What can I give you?” If God asked you that question, how would you fill in the blank check? My bet is you wouldn’t respond like Solomon. Recognizing the enormous responsibility before him and the lack of experience that accompanied his youthfulness, Solomon boldly said, “Here’s what I want: Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil. For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”

Solomon didn’t fill in his blank check with a dollar amount. Instead he cashed it in on one thing: Wisdom. Solomon understood that good decision-making is central to leadership…and wisdom is essential to decision-making. Look at how God responded to Solomon’s request:

God, the Master, was delighted with Solomon’s response. And God said to him, ‘Because you have asked for this and haven’t grasped after a long life, or riches, or the doom of your enemies, but you have asked for the ability to lead and govern well, I’ll give you what you’ve asked for–I’m giving you a wise and mature heart.

And because Solomon sought wisdom, God threw in a bonus: “As a bonus, I’m giving you both the wealth and glory you didn’t ask for–there’s not a king anywhere who will come up to your mark. And if you stay on course, keeping your eye on the life-map and the God-signs as your father David did, I’ll also give you a long life.”

I believe the same thing happens today. When leaders ask God first for wisdom, they receive a bonus that helps them navigate their toughest leadership challenges. How? Because wisdom is like a doorway to many of the solutions leaders are already seeking. A leader might ask God for the money to pay a pressing bill. Or a leader can ask for wisdom to build an organization that is financially sound. Leaders can ask God to provide volunteers for a major new initiative. Or leaders can ask for the wisdom to recruit and build a high performance team.

Wisdom is a leader’s #1 prayer because it’s the answer to many of the prayers yet to be prayed.