Few books offer more practical day-to-day guidance on the art of living than the Book of Proverbs. Most read it for exactly that reason … to seek advice and find counsel because Proverbs describes life as it really is in all aspects, guiding us on ways to live wisely in every situation we face. It contrasts wisdom and folly, pride and humility, work and leisure, wealth and poverty, and life and death. Proverbs tells us how we can make the most of life and affirms God as all wise and the source of all wisdom.
“Happy are those who find wisdom, and those who get understanding, for her income is better than silver, and her revenue better than gold.” – Proverbs 3:13-14
Loaded with hundreds of short, useful instructions for living, Proverbs is a veritable how-to on living in moderation and avoiding excess, controlling impulses, nurturing healthy relationships, and developing virtues through wisdom and understanding. Bringing Proverbs to God in prayer transforms our character in the process. Wisdom is instilled into our hearts and minds, helping us make good decisions and choices.
You might want to begin with this prayer based on Ephesians 1:17-19.
Lord God, I ask that you would give me a spirit of wisdom, understanding, and enlightenment so that I will come to more fully know your ways, your hopes for me, and the greatness of who you are. Amen
Taking a small portion, verse, or chapter of Proverbs…
- Read it slowly and take time to quietly meditate on it. Stillness helps us listen.
- Mentally note or write down insights you receive and how it relates to your life.
- Pray the Proverb back to God. Ask for help to follow its counsel, specifically where needed.
- End by giving thanks for having been shown wisdom and ask God to remind you of it, especially during times it’s needed most.
Would it be helpful to commit a proverb to memory or write it down so that you can meditate on it during the day? We need God’s guidance regarding healthy speech, our relationships (family life, friendships, etc.), and so many other things relating to practical life. Praying through Proverbs internalizes these truths and brings the wisdom of God into our daily life so we can learn to be prudent, sensible, and careful to avoid those things we should avoid.
Wisdom writings from other faith traditions, such as Chuang Tzu, an ancient Chinese text, contains Taoist stories, anecdotes, and universal truths, however, the wisdom literature of ancient Israel (Proverbs, Psalms, Job, Song of Songs, Ecclesiastes, Book of Wisdom, Wisdom of Sirach, etc), was unique in that God is recognized as the source of all wisdom, “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding” (Proverbs 9:10).
The wisdom of generations of Godly people invites us to consider the complexity and simplicity of living wisely. By praying through Proverbs, we ask God to give us a new level of wisdom and offer an example of how to live in troubled times. What a beautiful gift!
Content from this article comes in part from the following resources. Take a deeper dive into crosswalk.com.
Kim Snodgrass is Assistant to the Bishop for Christian Formation.