After many years of diverse career experience, I was excitedly counting down the days until my retirement. I eagerly anticipated being in control of my schedule and time while enjoying a slower pace of life. I envisioned more days devoted to serving in ministry at my church and deepening relationships...
“And now, O LORD God, confirm forever the word that you have spoken concerning your servant and concerning his house, and do as you have spoken.” (2 Samuel 7:25)
David’s words “do as you have spoken” get us to the heart of prayer. When we pray, we ask God to do what he has promised. David repeatedly turns God’s promise into prayer. Out of the word that God has spoken comes David’s prayer: “Lord, what I am asking is what you have already said. Do as you have spoken!”
How Prayer Works
“For you, O LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, have made this revelation to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house.’ Therefore your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you.” (v. 27)
How does David have the courage to pray this? If God had not spoken, David would not have had the courage. “Lord, if you had not said this, I would not have asked it, but your promise has given me courage to ask this of you.”
“You have promised this good thing to your servant. Now therefore may it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue forever before you” (vv. 28-29). Faith takes what God has said—God’s promise—and turns it into prayer: “Do as you have spoken” (v. 25).
Now why would you pray for something God has already promised? Because prayer is how God’s promises are delivered. Prayer is standing in the gap between what God has said and what you experience, and bringing them together. “I need what you have said.”
That’s how prayer works!
Keeping Your Prayers Fresh
Here is another reason for praying with an open Bible: What God says in his Word will suggest to you, day by day, fresh things that you can pray for someone you love. How can you pray for people you love year after year without sliding into vain repetition? “Lord, bless them! Lord, bless them! Lord, bless them!” And that’s only the first three days! How are you going to pray for them for 25 years?
If you pray with an open Bible, you will often find that the Bible suggests something you can pray for yourself or for another person, and when you pray for something God has said, you can pray with great confidence.
I’m reading in the Psalms at the moment, so here is one week’s worth of turning God’s promises into prayer:
- Psalm 20: May he grant you your heart’s desire and fulfill all your plans (20:4). That suggests prayer for a person who has a deep longing for something good that has not yet come to pass.
- Psalm 21: You make him glad with the joy of your presence (21:6). That prompts me to pray that someone I love will be deeply aware of the joy of the presence of God with them today, and the confidence that comes with that joy.
- Psalm 22: From you comes my praise in the great congregation (22:25). That suggests prayer for someone who suffers, that the outcome will bring praise to God and strength to others.
- Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures (23:1-2). Here is a promise I can pray for someone who is hard-pressed, hungry, thirsty, and needs to be renewed, nourished, and fed.
- Psalm 24: Who shall ascend the hill of Lord?…He who has clean hands and a pure heart…He will receive blessing from the Lord (24:3, 4, 5). Scripture is suggesting that I pray for the cleansing of my heart and hands, and to pray the same for others, so they may be guarded and know the Lord’s blessing.
- Psalm 25: O my God, in you I trust (25:2). Scripture is suggesting that I pray for strong, unwavering faith, and to have a steadfast eye on the Lord for myself and those I love.
If you pray with an open Bible, you will always have something fresh to ask of the Lord, and you will be able to pray with confidence because you are saying to God, “Do as you have spoken!”
Praying with Confidence
Years ago, I came across a sermon preached by C. H. Spurgeon called Order and Argument in Prayer based on Job’s words: “Oh, that I knew where I might find him, that I might come even to his seat! I would lay my case before him and fill my mouth with arguments” (Job 23:3-4).
Job suggests that we pray to God in the same way as a lawyer presents his or her case in a court of law. What does a lawyer do in a court of law? The lawyer presents arguments. He gives reasons. She quotes legal precedent for a particular verdict. If your lawyer says, “Well, we’ll just go into court and ask the judge for what we want and see what he says,” it’s time for you to get another lawyer! A good lawyer presents a case.
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You may say, “We don’t come to God as Judge. We come to him as Father.” But if you listen to children, you will find that they do exactly the same thing: “Dad, can I have an ice cream, because you said…?”
What is the clinching argument with God? The great and clinching argument in all our prayers is the person and work of our Lord Jesus Christ. His name always carries weight with God. You may already be in the habit of laying your case before God and presenting Jesus Christ as your clinching argument without realizing what you are doing.
At the end of your prayer you say, “For Jesus’ sake. Amen.” Why did you say, “For Jesus’ sake”? Because, intuitively, you know God is committed to do whatever glorifies the person of Jesus and advances the work of Jesus. When you pray “in the name of Jesus,” you always have the ear of the Father.
Yes and Amen
This is why our Lord said, “Truly, Truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you” (John 16:23). Asking in the name of Jesus means submitting what you ask to the will of Jesus; but coming to God in the name of Jesus, and basing your prayers on what he has promised, will give you courage when you ask.
Jesus Christ is the clinching argument for every person who draws near to God in his name. “For all the promises of God find their Yes in him” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
How can you be sure of God’s promises? How can you know that what God promises is actually yours? Look to Jesus Christ. Put your faith and your trust in him, and everything God has ever promised will be “yes” for you!