Scripture: 1 Kings 2: 10-12; 3: 3-14
10 Then David slept with his ancestors, and was buried in the city of David. 11 The time that David reigned over Israel was forty years; he reigned seven years in Hebron, and thirty-three years in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David; and his kingdom was firmly established.
3 Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of his father David; only, he sacrificed and offered incense at the high places. 4 The king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the principal high place; Solomon used to offer a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. 5 At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, “Ask what I should give you.” 6 And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant my father David, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you; and you have kept for him this great and steadfast love, and have given him a son to sit on his throne today. 7 And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David, although I am only a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in. 8 And your servant is in the midst of the people whom you have chosen, a great people, so numerous they cannot be numbered or counted. 9 Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, able to discern between good and evil; for who can govern this your great people?”
10 It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. 11 God said to him, “Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches, or for the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern what is right, 12 I now do according to your word. Indeed I give you a wise and discerning mind; no one like you has been before you and no one like you shall arise after you. 13 I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor all your life; no other king shall compare with you. 14 If you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your life.”
I have always had fairly vivid dreams. As a kid I would frequently wake in the middle of the night from bad dreams. I even had a few recurring dreams as a kid. There was one where I was being chased by a herd of wild horses. Nothing ever happened in the dream, I couldn’t even see anything other than a bunch of horses close up, as if the camera were all the way zoomed in on their heads, bobbing as they ran, but I somehow knew that those horses were after me. In other dreams, my subconscious would sometimes featured loved ones and ordinary scenarios, and sometimes it featured more fantastical scenes involving imaginary creatures or distant lands. I even, on occasion, dreamed of seeing family members who had passed away when I was young. Dreams can tell us a lot about what is on our minds, what we are worrying about, what we are hoping for.
A dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep. In dreams you will lose your heartache. Whatever you wish for you keep… No matter how your heart is grieving, if you keep on believing, the dream that you wish will come true…A drea is a wish your heart makes when you’re feeling small. Alone in the night you whisper, thinking no one can hear you at all, to wake in the morning sunlight to find fortune that is smiling on you.
This is a sampling of the lyrics to one of Disney’s most famous songs, “A Dream is a Wish Your Heart Makes.” As a little girl, I loved this song. I genuinely believed that if I had a vivid dream, whatever happened in the dream would come true. Now, I’m not saying that that isn’t the case for some people, sometimes we do have dreams about things that are going to happen in our lives, but never once have I awoken to find that I have been wisked away to a fairy kingdom as I dreamed about as a child. Dr Freud, a famous psychologist whom I very often disagree with, but who had some very poignant things to say about dreams.
Freud said that whether we intend it or not, we’re all poets. That’s because on most nights, we dream. And dreams are a lot like poetry, in that in both, we express our internal life in similar ways. We conjure images; we combine incongruent elements to evoke emotion in a more efficient way than wordier descriptions can; and we use unconscious and tengential associations rather than logic to tell the stories that our hearts are longing for. 
Essentially, Freud agreed with Disney about dreams, “a dream is a wish your heart makes when you’re fast asleep.”
Dream sequences make frequent appearances in both the Old and New Testaments. Joseph, of the dream coat variety, both has fantastic dreams and was able to discern the meaning of dreams. The prophet Samuel, who is all kinds of tied up in the story of Israel’s first kings, was called into ministry by God through a dream. The Lord told Zacharias in a dream that he and his wife, Elizabeth, would bear the child that would come to be known as John the Baptist. Joseph, Jesus’ adoptive father, was told in a dream not to divorce Mary, because the child was of God. And there are many more examples than these.
These dreams are all of great importance in the arc of the Biblical narrative, they each play a role in leading God’s people, whether individually or as a whole, through rough patches. They propel the story forward, often in a new and unexpected direction. Solomon’s dream is very much in this vein. Solomon was not an altogether undisputed new king. Solomon was not the first born son of David. David had several sons, and those that were Solomon’s elders fell to ruin in one way or another along the way, clearing the path for Solomon to rise as David’s heir. And as we know from much of world history, things get messy when the heirs of kings are disputed.
Like his father, and like all people, Solomon was a man who made mistakes. In our reading this morning, we’re told that Solomon walked in the statutes of his father David, except that he sacrified and offered incense at the high places, an act that the Israelites were expressly forbidden to do. Perhaps this little piece of condemnation is there to remind that no matter how great we become, we are the creature and God the creator.
And yet, this morning’s passage highlights something about Solomon that we hear frequently as the key characteristic of David’s life as well. Solomon’s heart was right with God. In this dream, Solomon holds a conversation with the Lord in which the Lord essentially says to Solomon, “ask for what you want and I will give it to you.” We aren’t told if Solomon took a moment to think about what he would ask for. We aren’t told if he hesitated. What we’re told is that Solomon asked for wisdom. Solomon says to God, “O Lord my God, you have made me the king of the people you have chosen to live in relationship with you, and I can see how huge this responsibility is, so what I would like more than anything is an understanding mind to govern your people, to be able to discern between good and evil.”
Take a moment to let that sink in. Think about the kinds of dreams that we have. Think about the kinds of prayers we pray, the kinds of things we ask for. Think about how frequently we forget to ask God for the most basic piece of living in relationship with God, wisdom to see the will of God, wisdom to run after the good and away from evil.
St. Augustine, a famous theologian from the 4th century, describes “good” as existing in a state where our wills are aligned with God’s will and “evil” as what happens when our wills point to things other than God. Who here has played a game like twister or hi, ho, cherry-oh where there is the cardboard card with the spinner attached? Augustine describes good as if our hearts and our wills are the plastic spinner, and “good” is what happens when the spinner is pointed to God and “evil” is what happens when the spinner is pointing anywhere else. Solomon’s dream is a prayer that asks God for help keeping his will pointed at God, so that Solomon can, in turn, help God’s people continue to point toward God. Have you ever heard anything so beautiful?
So what do we do with today’s text? A few years ago, Pope Francis said that prayer can be broken down into the “five-finger prayer,” prayer for those closest to you, prayer for those who teach you, those who are leaders in your life in the world, those who are weak or sick, and, finally, pray for yourself. There are many other methods out there to practice prayer. Sometimes a prayer can simply be admiring the beauty around you and recognizing that it comes from God. Sometimes a prayer can be that joy you feel in your heart when you squeeze someone you love dearly. A prayer is even found in the gasping sobs we let loose when our hearts are breaking. A prayer is a conversation, a connection between your heart and God’s.
I would urge you to remember Solomon’s dream when you’re next praying. We don’t have much control over what we dream about, but we can think about what we’re asking for when we pray. When you’re praying, wether following a method or simply letting the words and thoughts tumble out of your heart, begin by asking God to guide your heart. Ask God to give you the wisdom to see what is good, to see God’s will in the situation. Ask God to help you lead others to that kind of wisdom, by being an example in their lives. When we ask for God to make our hearts right with the Lord, God will see the wishes that our hearts make and see that they are good.
So, as Steven Tyler says, “Dream on.” Amen.
 Ilana Simons Ph. D., “What Do Dreams Do for Us?” The Literary Mind, psychologytoday.com