Godly wisdom will help you avoid the folly that wants to rob you of precious time with the Lord.
by Donna Gaines
HAVE YOU ever found yourself grappling with a decision or struggling to understand a relationship? All of us find our- selves at times frustrated and confused by life.
I know, I’ve been there. When we pile on the challenges of marriage, the responsibilities of parenting, and then becoming a grandparent, the awareness of our own inadequacies can be overwhelming.
During our early days of marriage, I discovered a key to understanding and unraveling the mysteries and complexities of relationships and just living life. Not surprisingly, I found it in the Bible. For years now, one of the most beneficial habits for me has been reading a chapter in Proverbs each day. Through those pages dripping in wisdom, I’ve gained insight into every area of my life. I would encourage you to commit this upcoming year to join me in reading through the Book of Proverbs each month. As we read and meditate on God’s Word, He speaks to us and reveals Himself, as well as the wisdom He has granted for living life. God has given us in His Word “For learning wisdom and discipline; for understanding insightful sayings; for receiving prudent instruction in righteousness, justice, and integrity; for teaching shrewdness to the inexperienced, knowledge and discretion to a young man” (Prov. 1:2-4).
All of us desire wisdom. But most of the time our fleshly tendency is to “rely on our own understanding” (Prov. 3:5) instead of turning to God’s Word. While it may be true that the Bible doesn’t cover absolutely every decision we face, it does cover the principles that lay the groundwork and create the framework for wise decisions and understanding.
At times, life and relationships get muddled and we need assistance in order to see more clearly. I’ve been using reading glasses to enhance my vision for years. It seemed like I was constantly looking for them or trying to remember where I had laid them down last. Over the past three or four years, without my glasses, letters were increasingly blurry and seemed to run together. Lines were gray and distorted. Last year, I finally became frustrated enough with my declining vision to make an appointment with an eye doctor to see if contacts would make a difference. After having my eyes examined, the doctor found that I had astigmatism. This condition can be caused by the shape of the lens in the eye, which results in distorted images.
That day, the doctor fitted me for contacts. When I put them in, I was immediately amazed by how clear everything was. The lines were bolder and sharper. Not only could I see better, but everything was instantly in 3D. I had no idea just how bad my vision had gotten!
My distorted vision is like our souls, which are marred by sin. In their fallen condition, they’re misshapen like my eyes and unable to rightly discern or “see” clearly. That is why we must view relationships as well as cultural issues through the lens of Scripture. Suddenly those things others want to portray as gray and unclear are really very clear and defined.
Why do we strain and struggle to view life through the truth of God’s Word? Often, we rely on what we’ve been taught about the Bible or what we’ve read that someone else says. Or we may simply elevate our own reasoning above Scripture. We can’t “see” clearly according to God’s Word if we’re not daily spending time in it. The Bible needs to be our lens for viewing life and for making decisions.
Every morning I typically read a chapter in Proverbs after I’ve read my daily portion of Scripture. (I read through the Bible annually. There are many One Year Bibles to choose from and many reading plans. Choose one that you would enjoy and just get started.) I would suggest that you read the Proverb that corresponds with the day of the month. I realize some months have 30 days, so you’ll read two chapters on the last day of the month. For February you can double up on a couple of days. But start with Proverbs 1.
Read through the chapter slowly. If you’re easily distracted, you might want to read it out loud. Then read through the verses a second time, pausing to reflect and meditate as you turn these verses into a prayer. Some people are a little confused by the word “meditate.” Dictionary.com defines it as “engaging in thought or contemplation.” Contemplation requires a little bit more time to pause and think deeply about something.
If you know how to worry, you know how to meditate. Just turn those anxious thoughts into prayer and focus on God’s Word. This disciplined practice is one we’ve nearly lost in our microwave, fast-food society. But it’s a practice that God commends and is the best way to move past wrong ways of thinking and into the real wisdom God reveals.
Proverbs 1:1 tells us these wise sayings were written by Solomon, David’s son, for the purpose of learning wisdom and discipline. This is how I would pray through verses 2 and 3: My prayer for verse 2 would be, “Lord, please grant me wisdom and discipline as well as understanding.” My prayer for verse 3 would be, “I pray that You will instruct me in ‘righteousness, justice and integrity.’” As you proceed through the chapter, move slowly verse by verse, pausing to pray as you work your way through.
Do you have a child or loved one in need? When our son was in high school he went through a period of rebellion. My husband and I prayed Scripture for him daily. I would suggest praying through Proverbs 2:2-4 something similar to this: “Lord, please help my son to store up Your commands and listen closely to wisdom. I pray that You will direct his heart to understanding and that he will begin to call out to You for insight. I pray that He will seek Your wisdom like silver and search for it like hidden treasure”.
I might further pray, “Father, You give wisdom. Would You bless him with knowledge and understanding that he might experience success? I pray that he will be upright and live with integrity that You might be his shield. Please guard his path and protect his way” (v. 6-8). Then I might drop down to verse 12 and pray, “Father, please deliver him from the path of darkness and from those who enjoy evil. Protect him from those whose paths are crooked and devious and from the wayward woman and her flattering talk.”
When one of our daughters was young, she was afraid of the dark. Sometimes she would cry when we left her in bed at night, even though we had read the Bible, sung songs, and prayed with her. There was a specific Scripture that we would remind her of and often pray with her. The passage is Proverbs 3:24-26, “When you lie down, you will not be afraid; you will lie down, and your sleep will be pleasant. Don’t fear sudden danger or the ruin of the wicked when it comes, for the LORD will be your confidence and will keep your foot from a snare.” Or, as the Message translates the last verse, “Because GOD will be right there with you; he’ll keep you safe and sound.”
As you’re reading through Proverbs, the Lord may grant you insight into a specific request you’ve been bringing before His throne. (See Heb. 4:16.) There have been times when the Lord would reveal a truth contained in Scripture that greatly boosted my faith and brought encouragement to my soul. Many times I was able to pass on the encouragement I received to someone else later in the day. As you meditate upon God’s Word, He grants wisdom and insight you wouldn’t have encountered otherwise.
The Bible says, “Faith comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through the message about Christ” (Rom. 10:17). Reading through the Bible and then focusing on a Proverb a day will increase your faith and the wisdom that comes from God. Using Scripture as your guide, do you see how you’ll be praying in specific ways truths you might not think to pray on your own? You’re also praying back to God His Words that you know are His will. God designed life for you to flourish as you “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not rely on our own understanding” (Prov. 3:5).
Discerning Between Wisdom and Folly
As I was studying Proverbs 1–9, I realized God had personified Wisdom and Folly. The consequences of these two women and the paths they chose to pursue are vividly illustrated in Scripture. I would encourage you to underline or highlight the blessings associated with Wisdom and the curses associated with Folly. Their lives portray the truths of Scripture and the law of “sowing and reaping” (Gal. 6:7). It all comes down to choices. We must choose God and His Word. To choose Him and to walk in His truth puts us on the path that leads to life. These choices will impact not just us but our descendants as well. (See Deut. 30:19.)
Praying the Scripture will enrich your prayer life and keep you from feeling like you say the same things to God every day about the same things. As Donald Whitney said in his book Praying the Bible, “So basically what you are doing is taking words that originated in the heart and mind of God and circulating them through your heart and mind back to God. By this means His words become the wings of your prayers.” Isn’t that a great visual?
Prayer is an important aspect of our relationship with Christ. As we converse with Him, speaking and listening, we grow in intimacy. There truly is no more powerful way to converse with God than through His Word. Reading and meditating on Proverbs will enhance your prayer life and grant you the wisdom for which you have been longing. Start the new year off right and commit your heart and mind to God’s wisdom for 2018! •
Donna Gaines is the author of Choose Wisely, Live Fully: Lessons from Wisdom & Folly, the Two Women of Proverbs, a speaker, and founder of Arise2Read — a nonprofit that recruits churches to adopt and provide tutors for inner-city elementary schools. Donna also teaches Bible study at her home church, Memphis-area Bellevue Baptist Church, where her husband, Steve Gaines, Southern Baptist Convention President, pastors. She is the mother of four and “Nonna” to ten grandchildren. Visit her online at DonnadGaines.blogspot.com or @DonnaGaines on Twitter.
This article originally appeared in HomeLife magazine (January 2018). For more articles like this, subscribe to HomeLife.