By Tom Savage
Last month we found that we ought to pray (1) because Jesus prayed, (2) because that’s what Jesus is doing, (3) because when we pray things happen, and (4) because we are always seeking the will of God. Here are two more reasons:
- Because evil forces are always out there seeking to hinder the work of God
In Daniel 10:1-14, we have an excellent example of this. Daniel was fasting and praying. He had been praying for twenty-one days. He was no doubt wondering if his prayers were even leaving the room. However, on the twenty-first day, he learned all his prayers were being heard in heaven, but demonic forces were hindering his prayer.
- Because our Father likes hearing a good argument; a good reason to answer
There are many prayers that have been answered. In many cases, the answer came later. In other cases, the answer was “No.” Maybe it was because the person’s heart was not right. Maybe it was because the person was angry with God. How hard is it for you to listen or even want to listen when the person talking is angry with you? Think of the times people “argued” with God; appealed to God passionately and only then did the answer come through. There are many illustrations of God answering prayers only after extensive and protracted praying. There are scenes in the Bible and current-day examples of people wrestling with God even, we might say, arguing with God.
Abraham argued with God when God told him He was going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. You might remember that scene where he says, “God will you save it if I can 50 righteous people, 45 righteous people, etc.”
What about the Israelites in bondage in Egypt who prayed for years? From the time the Israelites became slaves in Egypt and until the time Moses was a full-grown man, the Israelites cried out to God for Him to deliver them out of their bondage. The Bible tells us the Lord told Moses, “I have heard their cries, I have heard their prayers, and I am now ready to do something.”
Moses argued with God. There were days Moses wanted God to kill all the Israelites, but God said no. There were days God wanted to kill all the Israelites and Moses pleaded with God to not destroy them. It is just good Moses and God didn’t have a bad day on the same day, or they would have all been wiped out.
The persistent widow illustrates the importance of persistence in prayer. That parable follows immediately after our Lord saying, “men ought always to pray and not lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)
Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane pleaded so passionately that Luke tells us, “His sweat [on his forehead] became like great drops of blood falling down to the ground.”
Sometimes we know the precise will of God only after we present an argument with Him. After Saul of Tarsus, the man we know as Paul the Apostle, had his Damascus road experience, God called a man by the name of Ananias to do something. This resulted in a debate with the Lord.
The Lord told Ananias to go to the street called Straight. He said, “Ananias, when you get there, I want you to inquire at the house of Judas. The man you are looking for is Saul of Tarsus. He is down there praying, and I want you to find him. He is ready for you to come and see him. I have even allowed him to have a vision of you coming in and putting your hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.”
Well, Ananias said, “Lord, we need to talk about this. Are you sure about this? I’m not sure I am willing to do this. I mean, I have heard about this guy. The word is he has been causing a lot of harm to the church and to Your saints in Jerusalem. Lord, I have even heard that he has authority from the chief priests to bind people who call on Your name and cart them off to jail. Lord, I’m not sure I can do what you are requesting or me.”
At the end of his argument, what did the Lord say? Basically, the Lord said one word. He said, “Go!” [Just go down there and do what I am telling you to do because] “He is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.
Paul the Apostle begged God, pleaded with God, to remove his “thorn in the flesh.” It was not until the third passionate request he finally heard from the Lord. His answer – “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”
It could be said, God loves to hear how serious we are about an issue. He wants to hear how passionate we are about an issue. Are we willing to plead with Him? Are we willing to beg Him to do something? Are we willing to cry out to Him? Are we willing to fast and pray? Are we willing to go “to the mat” with Him? Are we willing to wrestle with Him, spiritually speaking, or are we somewhat indifferent?
God is not grieved when we debate Him, question Him or express frustration with Him when we are genuinely seeking Him. What seems to bother God is indifference. God loves it when we present a good argument to Him; when we give Him a solid reason for Him to act. Next time we will see one more reason why we ought to pray.