Pattern of prayer that God will hear

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Charles Spurgeon preached a wonderful sermon on Judges 1:12-15 titled, Aschsah’s Asking, A Pattern of Prayer. Spurgeon showed how the request from a daughter (Aschsah) to a father (Caleb) gives us a “parable of prayer.”

 One of them, called Caleb, said, “I will give my daughter Achsah in marriage to the man who succeeds in capturing Kiriath Sepher.” Othniel, the son of Caleb’s younger brother Kenaz, captured the city, so Caleb gave him his daughter Achsah in marriage. On the wedding day Othniel urged her[a] to ask her father for a field. She got down from her donkey, and Caleb asked her what she wanted. She answered, “I want some water holes. The land you have given me is in the dry country.” So Caleb gave her the upper and lower springs. – Judges 1:12-15  GNT

She thought about what she wanted before she asked and was very definitive with her ask.

“Think what you are going to ask before you begin to pray, and then pray like business men. This woman does not say to her father, ‘Father, listen to me,’ and then utter some pretty little oration about nothing; but she knows what she is going to ask for, and why she is going to ask it.” – Spurgeon

She also asked for help when it came to her request.

“A friend, some time ago, said to me, ‘My dear pastor, whenever I cannot pray for myself, and there are times when I feel shut up about myself, I always take to praying for you: ‘God bless him, at any rate!’ and I have not long been praying for you before I begin to feel able to pray for myself.’ I should like to come in for many of those odd bits of prayer. Whenever any of you get stuck in the mud, do pray for me. It will do you good, and I shall get a blessing.” – Spurgeon

She was confident because it was her father that she was asking.

She went humbly, yet eagerly.

It was encouraging to her to have her father ask her what she wanted. God asks that too when we engage with him. That is why it is good to know what we want.

Asking is important – I would say it is one of God’s pleasures to hear me ask.

She simply came forward and she simply asked for a blessing.

There was an acknowledgement of gratitude for what was already given and that thankfulness was mingled with the ask.

So there was the past blessing which set up the openness to request more and she knew she needed more.

“What is the use of the hearers if there be not the power of the Holy Spirit going with the Word to bless them? Give me springs of water.” – Spurgeon

Obviously this is a great example because she received what she asked for and I believe she received more than what she asked for.

What I love most is that her father in no way offered criticism of her request and did not take it lightly in any way.

While Aschsah had her husband to walk with her during the ask, Jeremiah was stopped for doing the same thing for the people of Israel.

The Lord said to me, “Do not ask me to help these people. Even if they fast, I will not listen to their cry for help; and even if they offer me burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not be pleased with them. Instead, I will kill them in war and by starvation and disease.” – Jeremiah 14:11-12  GNT

This is not the first time that Jeremiah was told to stop praying for the people. They may know the motions needed to look like they care about God but He knew how hard their hearts were and decided not to hear them. 

“O, how dreadful is the state of that people in reference to whom the Lord says to his ministers, Pray not for them; or, what amounts nearly to a prohibition, withholds from his ministers the spirit of prayer and intercession in behalf of the people!” – Clarke

The only way I believe God would hear their prayer would be if they all came together to repent, and to call upon His name.

“We begin by admitting the sin for what it is, but then secondly, we forsake it, rejecting and repudiating it. This is to adopt a right attitude towards both God and the sin itself.” John Stott

 

 

When I do not pray I cannot overcome

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The second time and I believe it is the last time Joshua made a mistake in not praying before making a decision came when the Gibeonites came up with a plan. What a call to me when I even think about neglecting to pray. I can be so easily deceived and make wrong decisions. Then when I do not pray and fail, then those who I am responsible to and for, fail also.

The Israelites accepted some food from them, but did not consult the Lord about it. – Joshua 9:14  GNT

It is in my decision not to pray and walk through the word of God that  I am deceived by the evil one.

Here is a great prayer that shows the difference. It starts with a prayer for deliverance.

Save me, Lord, from evildoers;
    keep me safe from violent people.
They are always plotting evil,
    always stirring up quarrels.
Their tongues are like deadly snakes;
    their words are like a cobra’s poison. – Psalm 140:1-3  GNT

 “The persecuted man turns to God in prayer; he could not do a wiser thing. Who can meet the evil man and defeat him save Jehovah himself, whose infinite goodness is more than a match for all the evil in the universe?” – Spurgeon

Then moves to a prayer for preservation.

Protect me, Lord, from the power of the wicked;
    keep me safe from violent people
    who plot my downfall.
The proud have set a trap for me;
    they have laid their snares,
    and along the path they have set traps to catch me. – Psalm 140:4-5  GNT

“The ‘wicked’ may arrogantly desire, plan, and execute; but the Master of the universe cannot tolerate anarchy for long. To this end the plea changes into an imprecatory prayer.” – VanGemeren

There is a time of acknowledging that I am praying to the God of strength and salvation.

I say to the Lord, “You are my God.”
Hear my cry for help, Lord!
My Sovereign Lord, my strong defender,
you have protected me in battle.
Lord, don’t give the wicked what they want;
don’t let their plots succeed. – Psalm 140:6-8  GNT

When I pray, asking God to work for me and against those who desire to work evil is important.

In fact, I am encouraged to acknowledge the presence of those evil ones and pray specifically against them.

Don’t let my enemies be victorious;[b]
make their threats against me fall back on them.
May red-hot coals fall on them;
may they be thrown into a pit and never get out.
May those who accuse others falsely not succeed;
may evil overtake violent people and destroy them. – Psalm 140:9-11  GNT

This is a prayer of a heart poured out entrusting the punishment to God in heaven rather than taking it in my own hands.

It is a prayer for simple justice – for the evil they give, may they receive the same evil back. This is not evil for evil, this is like asking God to give us a cover and when the curese comes against us, it bounces off and returns back to the the one cursing.

The idea of course is that when they experience the power of their own curse in their lives that they would be destroyed and overthrown.

The prayer at the end is one of confidence in God being victorious.

Lord, I know that you defend the cause of the poor
    and the rights of the needy.
The righteous will praise you indeed;
    they will live in your presence. – Psalm 140:12-13  GNT

“At the time of the intervention and vindication, ‘the righteous’…will alter their prayers for deliverance…to songs of triumph.” – VanGemeren

I think the ability to be this courageous in prayer comes from a repentant heart.

A noise is heard on the hilltops:
    it is the people of Israel crying and pleading
    because they have lived sinful lives
    and have forgotten the Lord their God.
Return, all of you who have turned away from the Lord;
    he will heal you and make you faithful. – Jeremiah 3:21-22  GNT

The idea of prayer against evil people should translate to spiritual warfare as well.

When they returned to the crowd, a man came to Jesus, knelt before him, and said, “Sir, have mercy on my son! He is an epileptic and has such terrible attacks that he often falls in the fire or into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.” – Mathew 17:14-16  GNT

“It is easy to feel Christian in the moment of prayer and meditation; it is easy to feel close to God when the world is shut out. But that is not religion – that is escapism. Real religion is to rise from our knees before God to meet men and the problems of the human situation.” – Barclay

It was because you do not have enough faith,” answered Jesus. “I assure you that if you have faith as big as a mustard seed, you can say to this hill, ‘Go from here to there!’ and it will go. You could do anything!” But only prayer and fasting can drive this kind out; nothing else can – Matthew 17:17-21  GNT

“There are some things which are obtained by a stronger faith, and by more fervent and importunate prayers, than others are. A mercy sometimes seems to come to out of the hand of God with more difficulty, and wrestling for it.” – Poole

There was no point in blaming the boy or his father or the demon, though the demon was strong and had been there long. The fault lay in the disciples. “When the ministers of the Gospel find their endeavours, with respect to some places or persons, ineffectual, they should come, by private prayer, to Christ, humble themselves before him, and beg to be informed whether some evil in themselves have not been the cause of the unfruitfulness of their labours.” – Clarke

I think that I show my faith in and reliance on God when I pray and fast. Prayer is that display with my occupation and my dependence on Jesus.

To pray with a sense of fervency brings a confidence that God will answer my prayer. How can I be moved with a dispassionate one where I give every indication that I am presenting to God an issue that I care little or nothing about?

If prayer and fasting demonstrates that I am willing to identify with the afflicted individual, and shows my regard of the strength of the demonic world as well as my dependence on God, and if it displays my incredible desire to fight and sacrifice for the sake of deliverance, then it all matters.

“He that would overcome the devil in certain instances must first overcome heaven by prayer, and conquer himself by self-denial.” – Spurgeon

For the ways he gives and sustains our physical life. For making us in his image, capable of knowing, loving, serving, enjoying him and other relationships; for preserving our lives thus far— bringing us through injuries and sicknesses so that we are alive today; for the supports and comforts that make our lives enjoyable, pleasant, and bearable; for the successes we have received, goals attained, and for the blessings we weren’t wise enough or capable of achieving but which he sent anyway. For the ways he gives and sustains our spiritual life. For the plan of salvation itself, and how the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit planned it from the deeps of eternity; for Christ emptying himself of his glory for us; for his teaching and character that reveal to us the beauty of holiness; for Jesus’ death on our behalf, paying for our sins, fulfilling all the requirements, bringing us into a new covenant relationship with God through grace; for the Holy Spirit, for his power and presence in our lives enabling us to understand God’s truth, know his love and glory, be conformed to Christ’s character, and serve others with his gifts; for the Word of God, the Scripture— for its wisdom and truth, and its power; for the church, its congregations and leaders, who have shaped and formed us, who have helped us grow in faith, hope, and love; for the Christian friends who have given us so much; for the assurance of our salvation, that we can rest in the hope of future resurrection and living with him forever; for being able to know that, no matter what, everything will be all right. – Timothy Keller