Praying for the Heart of our Leaders (by Brett Porter)

Our world sits in isolation because of the global pandemic of Covid19. There seems to be a growing sentiment that it has been long enough now. We are exhausted from hearing about unprecedented times and ready to move forward to life after this crisis.

God has put on my heart to pray for discernment from the beginning of this crisis. I have been praying for everyone I could think of—national leaders, company leaders, leaders of local businesses, leaders of our first responders, leaders of essential services, leaders in every home, and so on. As the Toronto City Missionary with the Send Network, a priority in my prayer time has focused on the leaders within our churches across the city. I have been praying for God’s discernment.

Over the past week, I read 1 Kings 3:1-15 in my regular Bible reading plan along with our church, The Hamilton Fellowships. In verse five, God came to Solomon in a dream and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.” I feel baffled by this statement. What would I say to God if he said this to me? I would likely respond to God in different ways depending on the day, the mood, and the circumstances around me. How I would have responded to this statement in January would not be the same as I would react today.

To multiply the baffling nature of the passage, Solomon responded to God in verse 9 with the words, “give your servant a discerning heart.” I am one hundred percent sure I would have never responded to the question of God by asking for a discerning heart. But Solomon’s response caught my attention because I have been praying for discernment for weeks.

God is teaching me to pray more specifically. God is encouraging me to pray deeper and start sharing, specifically with leaders across Toronto. The Holy Spirit began to point out some foundational principles of a discerning heart.

Principle #1: Showing Love to the Lord

The current state of Solomon was showing love to the Lord. In verse three, the Bible says, “Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions give him by his father, David.” David had passed on God’s decrees and commands to his son Solomon (you can read his fatherly direction in the beginning verses of 1 Kings 2). Solomon showed love to the Lord by obedience. Jesus mentioned this in John 14 as well. In verse 15, Jesus said, “If you love me, keep my commands.”

Currently, my obedience to Jesus is in basic promptings of the Holy Spirit. Call this leader, send a note of encouragement to that leader, and so on. At other times I am learning to obey the Spirit’s leading with a reminder to be present with my family and not on devices. Other times obedience is allowing the words of God flow through me to my neighbours.

One reason Solomon asked for a discerning heart is because of his current condition of showing love to the Lord by living in obedience.

Principle #2: Starting with Thankfulness

Solomon’s first thought went to God’s kindness. Solomon reached back to thanking God for His goodness toward his father, David. Realizing God’s favour did not stop with his father, Solomon, continues to stand in thankfulness to God to his present day.

As I write this, I pause to grab a snack. I scroll briefly through Facebook and discover stories of my grandparents from those whose lives have been impacted by them. I stopped immediately and began to thank God for His goodness to my grandparents, who passed on His goodness to my parents, who passed His goodness on to me. I could not help but leave a comment thanking the friends of my grandparents for the story and reminder of God’s love and kindness.

What if looking back, you do not discover a true generational thankfulness? What then? Your journey is still worthy of thanks. A friend, who is a refugee with a very tough journey, discovered thankfulness right in the middle of deep hurt and excruciating pain. God used recent spiritual mothers and fathers to provide her generational thankfulness. Don’t miss the Spirit of God during hard steps in life. Thankfulness is ever-present.

The second reason Solomon asked for a discerning heart is because of the awareness of the gift God had given him of his journey and current circumstance.

Principle #3: Standing on the Calling

After offering thanksgiving to God, Solomon makes his ask. The ask? A discerning heart. Why did he ask this? Because God had called him to the throne. He said in verse seven, “I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.”

God called my family to the greater Toronto area fifteen years ago. Today, God draws my attention to the specific call to make disciples who make disciples and see churches birthed that change the very fabric of the community. While not a complete wreck before the crisis, the Holy Spirit is correcting some points of my life back to God’s calling to be the soil in which life after the pandemic grows.

The third reason Solomon asked for a discerning heart is that he recognized his God-sized calling and that without the presence and power of God, his calling would fall far short.

The Heart of Church Leaders

So, I continue to pray for the discerning heart of church leaders across Toronto and the globe. But I pray specifically for the foundations of a heart of discernment.

I pray specifically amid fatigue around every corner–isolation, zoom, emotional, mental, spiritual, and physical fatigue, that God would find you showing love to the Lord walking daily in obedience.

What is God saying to you right now?

  • Is He calling you to rest? Do it.
  • Is He calling you to pray? Do it.
  • Is He calling you to connect to neighbours? Do it.
  • Is He calling you to delight and meditate on His Word? Do it.

I pray specifically for a thankful heart. I pray you will find thankfulness reaching back generations. I pray you will find reasons for being thankful during this time of radical change. I pray you can discover thankfulness for connections happening amid isolation.

Why is your heart thankful to God?

  • How has God shown Himself throughout previous generations in your lineage? Think it. Write it. Say it. Share it.
  • How has God revealed Himself during self-isolation? Think it. Write it. Say it. Share it.
  • How has God shown encouragement and lifted your spirits through others because of digital connectedness during isolation? Think it. Write it. Say it. Share it.

I pray specifically for a heart anchored in God’s calling. I pray God will use this time to take you back to the specific calling He has given you, that God does not allow you to go back to just being normal again, and that He provides you creativity to see your calling shine in new ways.

Unpack your calling right now.

  • Who has God called you to be? Write it down!
  • What has God called you to do? Write it down!
  • How did God call you? Write it down!
  • Where did God call you to serve? Write it down!
  • Have you veered away from His calling?

          No? - thank God right now

          Yes? - ask for repentance & make a plan to get back to His calling

  • Clarify your calling. Now share it with someone!

The discerning heart is birthed out of a called and thankful heart, walking in obedience to the Lord. I am praying specifically and intentionally for you today!