Feb 18, 2013
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.
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.
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And here are some related posts you might find helpful –
- Mary and Martha’s Unanswered Prayer
- How To Pray About Problems
- How To Overcome Prayerlessness
- Praying With Faith