Rapping hard on the door
I was asked recently by an experienced minister, ‘In a prayer meeting, after you’ve asked God for something, what more can you do?’
The question reflects the accepted norm in many, if not most, contemporary church prayer meetings. People take it in turn to bring their requests to God, and warmly seek his gracious answer. It is taken as self-evident that all God expects from us in prayer is a sincere request from a believing heart, and that God will be pleased to answer according to his will.
In other words, once you have asked God for something there is little more you can or should do. How different was Job who longed to ‘state my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments‘ (Job 23:4).
Why arguments? Is God so reluctant to hear the cry of his children that he needs to be brow-beaten.
Certainly not! Our gracious God has made us his co-workers who are privileged to share his heart and compassion. It is for our benefit not his that God wants us to search for biblical reasons to argue before him.
As we marshall sound arguments to bring before God, we are gripped by the importance and urgency of the matter for which we pray. This increases our desire for an answer. And when we know we are pleading with solid biblical reasons, we are confident that we are touching the heart of God and our faith becomes bold and expectant.
Richard Sibbes said, ‘It is a pitiful thing for Christians to come to God only with bare, naked petitions and have no reason to press God out of his own Word’. Stuart Olyott comments on the prayer of Daniel in Daniel chapter 9: ‘Daniel came to God with strong arguments and with importunity.
‘He gave God convincing reasons why he should hear him, and repeated his requests and reasons with fervour and urgency. This is one of the secrets of those who prevail with God’.
C. H. Spurgeon wrote, ‘When we come to the gate of mercy, forcible arguments are the knocks of the rapper by which the gate is opened’.
What then are the arguments we can bring before God in prayer? They are many, but one we should especially take note of are the exceedingly great and precious promises of Scripture.
No argument can be more persuasive with God than to remind him of what he has already promised, and to plead, ‘Do as you have promised’, as David did in 2 Samuel 7:25.
Likewise Jacob, when he feared meeting Esau who was coming with 400 armed men, prayed, ‘But you have said, I will surely make you prosper.’
In the same way today, we need to find out from Scripture what God has promised, and reverently, but boldly, hold him to his Word. For ‘God is not a man, that he should lie, nor a son of man that he should change his mind’ (cf. Numbers 23:19; and 1 Samuel 15:29).
Our gracious God has loaded Scripture with handfuls of promises with which we can plead for the salvation of unconverted sinners, as we wrestle for the anointing of the Holy Spirit on gospel preaching and pray for fresh doors of gospel opportunity into our communities.