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Biblical, battle-tested, real-life help for "living by faith in the Son of God" (Galatians 2:20). — Steve Fuller

A Neglected Practice That Can Empower Your Prayer

Spurgeon on PrayerWeak Prayer

Prayer has been one of my biggest struggles.  I know prayer should be earnest and passionate; but too often mine has been lifeless and dull.

But a few years ago I stumbled upon a practice that has consistently given life to my prayer.

A Spurgeon Sermon

I was reading a little paperback called 12 Sermons on Prayer by Charles Spurgeon.  One of the sermons was called “Order and Argument in Prayer.”

Spurgeon noted that often in the Bible people don’t just ask God to do things, they also give God persuasive reasons for why He should do these things.

He said that just like a lawyer uses powerful arguments to appeal to the jury, so we should use powerful arguments to appeal to God.

Here are some examples —

Moses in Exodus 32

Israel sinned by worshiping the golden calf.  God responds by saying He is going to destroy Israel and start over again with just Moses.  So Moses prays —

“O LORD, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you have brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand?  Why should the Egyptians say, ‘With evil intent did he bring them out, to kill them in the mountains and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your burning anger and relent from this disaster against your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, to whom you swore by your own self, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your offspring, and they shall inherit it forever.'” (Exo 32:11-13)

So why should God not destroy Israel?  It’s because —

  • the Egyptians will think God tricked his people — delivering them from Egypt in order only to kill them in the wilderness
  • God has sworn that he would multiply Abraham’s offspring and give them the promised land

David in Psalm 25

David prays: “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation” (v.5).  So why should the Lord teach David?  It’s because David has been trusting God for salvation.

David prays “For your name’s sake, O Lord, pardon my iniquity” (v.11).  So why should the Lord pardon David’s iniquity?  It’s because forgiving David would glorify God’s name.

David prays “Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted” (v.16).  So why should the Lord be gracious to David?  It’s because David is lonely and afflicted.

Jesus in John 17

Jesus prays

“I … ask … that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)

So why should the Father cause believers to be one?  It’s because our unity will persuade the world that Jesus was sent from God.

How To Do This

Think of a request that’s important to you.  Then think of reasons why it would be right and fitting for God to grant your request.

Think of how granting your request would display His glory, show His love, strengthen His people, advance the Gospel, meet your need.

Then pray, by coming to the Father in Jesus’ name.  Ask Him to grant your request.  And then give Him the reasons why you think this would be right for God to do.

State your reasons earnestly — because they are good, biblical, God-glorifying reasons.  But also state them humbly — because you know your understanding of the situation is not perfect.

An Example

Years ago the church I pastor needed a worship leader.  And I remember how much it helped my prayer to give God reasons for why He should bring us a worship leader.  I prayed something like this —

Please, Father, bring us a strong worship leader, because strong worship will —

  • glorify Your name
  • strengthen the faith of your people
  • encourage those who struggle
  • save the lost

I remember this, because as I explained these reasons to God, my heart was deeply stirred.  And — a few weeks later God miraculously provided us with an amazing worship leader.

Why Give God Reasons?

Why not just bring God your requests, and leave it at that?  Why bring requests, and then give God reasons?

I have not found any Scriptures which answers that question (if you know of one — let me know).  But here are some reasons that make sense to me —

  • It purifies our motives.  It’s helpful to ask — Why am I asking for this?  Why should I ask for this?  Asking these questions will purify our motives.
  • It strengthens our faith.  As we think about the reasons we will feel that it’s right for us to bring this request before God.
  • It increases our earnestness.  As you appeal to God with powerful reasons, your own heart will be stirred with earnest passion and feeling.
  • It stirs God’s heart.  God has chosen to have our prayers move Him to accomplish His sovereign will — especially when our prayers give Him powerful reasons.

So — when you pray, give God reasons.

Comments?  Feedback?

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Category: Help with Prayer

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16 Responses

  1. Troy says:

    This blew my mind, i feel like i got a whole new look on prayer! thank you! needed it….

  2. Kyle Laplante says:

    I agree with Troy. What a great new outlook on prayer! Thank you for this!

  3. E.M says:

    Wow, this has interested me. i am going to embark on this approach starting today.
    Many regards.

  4. Craig says:

    Steve,
    This one really has me rattled! I’ve been wrestling with it since the day you posted. I always looked at the ancients arguing with God in a futile attempt to get God to agree with them. But you’ve shown that praying through reasons and arguments can help align our thoughts to God’s and gives us yet more opportunity to praise and glorify His name. Thanks again brother!

  5. Ash says:

    Truthfully, it feels wrong to give God reasons as I pray. It feels as if I am trying to persuade Him like a lawyer rather than ask Him like a child.

    Interested but conflicted,

    Ash

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Thanks for your comment, Ash.

      And you raise a good question — contrasting the kind of reasoning a lawyer would bring with the kind of asking a child would bring.

      But can they be combined? Picture a child longing for something and coming to his father and humbly giving the father reasons why the father should grant it.

      I think that’s more of what Spurgeon was picturing when he mentioned lawyers.

      And throughout the Bible we see prayers which include persuasive reasons (especially check out the prayers in Psalms).

      That, as well as the biblical example of people who prayed with reasons (Moses, Jehoshaphat, David, Daniel, Nehemiah, Jesus, the early church in Acts 4, etc) persuades me that it’s helpful to give God reasons when we pray.

      I’d love to hear more of your thoughts as you process this, Ash. And again — thanks for your excellent question.

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  6. Sharon says:

    This caught my eye becasue it was inspired by Charles Spurgeon who I affectionatley call “my Charlie”. I loved you article and it prompted me to go to my book shelf and pull down my copy of 12 Sermons on Prayer and begin to read. My husband and I lost our home last year and we faced financial ruin. We moved to Texas for a job in the oil industry which is completely out of his field but he humbled himself and took it after 3 months he lost his job he has been frantically trying to find work and we now face homelessness once more. I have tried to continue in faith but we are wavering (after walking for 27yrs)in much doubt. The rent is due and we have no money our bills are heading to collections once more. I hope that God will hear my cry and rescue me out of this pit. I feel completely abandon by him and forsakened for he has not provided as His word says He wills. Hard to write these words people just cant believe it is happening to us again in a place where we have little support.

    • Steve Fuller says:

      Hi Sharon,

      Thank you for sharing your story — and I am so sorry to hear about the trials you are facing.

      I can understand how you might be wavering in your faith. I’ve recently been memorizing Rom 8:18-22; you might find it encouraging. The bottom line is that God will surely be faithful to you and your husband. As crazy as it sounds, this trial is a gift to you of deeper closeness with Him and more joy in Him.

      So come to Him as you are, pour out your soul before Him, and pray over His promises until you see and feel the glory and love and goodness of Christ.

      Also, are you part of a Bible-believing, Christ-centered church? I’d go to them and share your story so they can pray and encourage and help you.

      I will pray for you right now. Please keep us posted on how you are doing (maybe post your story on the Forums page under “work and unemployment” so more will see it).

      In Christ,

      Steve Fuller

  7. Sharon says:

    Thank you for your prayers and the fact you responded. We do have a church but we haven’t been able to go due to the distance and gas situation. Our home group has been reaching out to us but our Pastor hasn’t called at all. Its not a large church so that is very disappointing to me. His wife came and gave us a gift card and we have never heard from her again not even an email. It will be hard for me to go back there. So I feel really blessed that you responded since I don’t know you at all and you are a busy Pastor with your own flock. May the Lord bless you for this ministry of love. You seem to have the heart of Paul who loved the church of God so much, so rare is this quality in a pastor these days. I have learned a lot about people through losing my home and now this. People are either generous or not. They either back a way or help you tangibly. I have learned that platitudes don’t help they hurt. Jer. 29:11 and Philppians 4:19 said to you over and over again without tangible help is just a gong. So as for the gift of this situation although I am still trying to unwrap it fully, it is be a loving extension of God to mankind. With deeds that make a difference not just words that make you feel pious and puffed up but have little meaning when throw at someone as you pass bye them with their outstretched hand and heart left empty. Look into their eyes see their pain, pray for them right on the spot hold their hands wipe their tears then tell them of the heavenly destiny that we can have through Christ our Savior.

    In His Name
    Sharon

  8. Caitlyn says:

    Thanks so much for this post! You gave me something to think about. I’m a junior in high school and I’m leading a chapel on praying bold prayers. Have any thoughts? If God answers every prayer, (either by giving us what we asked or better) than why not pray bold prayers that will change the world?

    • Steve Fuller says:

      You are so welcome, Caitlyn. And I agree with you about bold prayers.

      One helpful exercise is to pray the prayers we have recorded in God’s Word, like the Lord’s prayer, and Paul’s prayers in Ephesians 1 and 3.

      Onward!

      Steve Fuller

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