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Can We Pray for Wisdom?

What does it mean to pray?

 Does it mean we speak or pour out the thoughts of our heart, and god just listens?  Does he not respond?

 Or does god only respond to certain things?  How do you know you have an answer, as opposed to heartburn?  Or can you even know?

 If James 1:5 means we can pray for "wisdom", and it will be given us, what is wisdom, and how can it be given to us?

 The word "wisdom" is translated from the Greek work "sophia", and means "the capacity to understand and function accordingly...Wisdom that God imparts to those who are close to God...Good judgment in the face of human and specifically Christian demands (practical)wisdom...James 1:5" (BDAG, pg 934).  Liddell and Scott say:  "1. Properly cleverness or skill...2. Skill in matters of common life, sound judgment, intelligence, practical wisdom, etc...3. learning, wisdom... 4. Among the Jews, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of Wisdom" (Proverbs 1:7 LXX)" L&S, pp 1621-2.  Interestingly, the Hebrew version of Prov. 1:7 says "Fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge".  The Jews thus showing a dynamic equivalence in their understanding of "wisdom" and "knowledge".

 In the Old Testament, which James' audience would be very familiar with, we learn this in Proverbs 2:6 "For the LORD giveth wisdom: out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding."  The American Heritage Dictionary gives 4 definitions, either of the following 2 would apply:  "1. The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight. 2. Common sense; good judgment: “It is a characteristic of wisdom not to do desperate things” (Henry David Thoreau)."

 So now, let's substitute the definition for the word, and see if we can get some clarity on what it is we can ask God for which we lack, and which he in turn gives liberally:

 "But if anyone is deficient in wisdom [The ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight.Common sense; good judgment] he should ask God, who gives to all generously and without reprimand, and it will be given to him." (NET Bible)

 So if I need the ability to discern what is true, I can ask God, and he will liberally give that ability to me.

 Strangely, though there is no place in the Bible that says "don't pray" for anything, the one thing anti-Mormons feel God is incapable of accurately giving a person "the ability to discern or judge what is true, right, or lasting; insight" is the truthfulness of the Book of Mormon.

 We likewise often hear anti-Mormons say there is no command to pray about the Bible.  This is not entirely true, at least for receiving a spiritual witness of the Bible.  As the two disciples walked with Jesus on the road to Emmaus, Jesus discussed scripture with them.  The proof of its truthfulness was plainly experienced by the disciples, which Luke wrote as a sign post for recognizing truth for all of us: Lk 24:32 "They said to each other, “Didn’t our hearts burn within us while he was speaking with us on the road, while he was explaining the scriptures to us?”"

 How we can expect to "know" the truthfulness of the scriptures, according to the Bible, is a burning in the heart or other tangible spiritual manifestation.  Elijah heard the still small voice (1 Kings 19:12).  Paul taught we all can be "led by the Spirit" (Romans 8:14, 26; Gal 5:18).  I suppose we can accept the anti-Mormon claim there is no wisdom in asking God for "the ability to discern or judge what is true" when it comes to spiritual things, but that would actually prove they are not Biblical in their approach.

 

 
     
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