2869. Prayer Found In The Heart

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Prayer Found In The Heart

No. 2869-50:61. A Sermon Delivered On Lord’s Day Evening, January 16, 1876, By C. H. Spurgeon, At The Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington.

A Sermon Published On Thursday, February 4, 1904.

Therefore your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to you. {2Sa 7:27}

 For other sermons on this text:
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 1412, “Where True Prayer is Found” 1403}
   {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2869, “Prayer Found in the Heart” 2870}
   Exposition on 2Sa 7:18-29 Lu 18:1-14 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2869, “Prayer Found in the Heart” 2870 @@ "Exposition"}
   Exposition on 2Sa 7:18-29 {See Spurgeon_Sermons No. 2811, “Removal” 2812 @@ "Exposition"}

1. It is a very blessed thing for a child of God to be anxious to glorify his Heavenly Father, whether his wish is accomplished or not. The strong desire to magnify God is acceptable to him, and is an indication of spiritual health. It is certain, in the long run, to bring blessing to our own souls; and I have frequently noticed that, when we earnestly desire to do something special for the Lord, he generally does something for us very much of the same kind. David wished to build a house for God. “No,” says Jehovah, “you have been a man of war, and I will not employ a warrior in spiritual business; but I will build a house for you.” So, although David may not build a house for God, it is good that its plan is in his heart; and God, in return, builds up his house, and sets his son, and his son’s son, on the throne after him. But, my dear friend, if you should not find an opportunity to do all that is in your heart, yet, nevertheless, it is good that it is there. Carry out the project if you can; but if you cannot, it may be that, just as you have desired to deal with the Lord, so he will really deal with you. If you have sown sparingly, you shall reap sparingly. If you have sown liberally, you shall reap largely; for, very often, the Lord’s dealings with his own people are a kind of echo to their hearts of their dealings with him.

2. Sometimes it happens that God will not let his servants do what they would like to do most of all. David had long been storing up gold and silver in great quantities so that he might build that house for the Lord. It had been the great project of his life that he might make a proper sanctuary for the ark of the covenant. “I dwell,” he said, “in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells within curtains.” The dream of his life was that he might build a magnificent temple, which should be supremely gorgeous for architecture, and rich in all the treasures of the ends of the earth, that there the ark of his God might be appropriately housed. But the Lord would not have it so. David might pray about it, and think about it, and plan about it, and save his money for it; but the Lord would not have it so. It was not in that particular way that David was to serve his God. And I have known some good Christian young men who felt that they must be preachers. They did not have the proper gifts and qualifications for the ministry, but they felt that they must preach; so they have striven very hard, but at all points they have encouraged rebuffs. People, who have heard them once, have been quite satisfied, and have not desired to hear them again. Doors have been shut against them, no conversions have followed their efforts, and so God has said to each one of them, “Not so, my son; you not shall serve me in that way.” And there are others who have had other plans in their heads, — brothers and sisters, who have arranged wonderful schemes and plans, which they have dreamed over, and said, “We will serve God by doing this.” Yet, so far, my brother, you have had to stay at the workman’s bench; and you, my sister, have had to keep raising those little children. Up until now, you have not been very successful in any special path of usefulness, or what is commonly thought to be the path of usefulness. But God knows best, and he has uses for all the vessels in his house, and it is not right for any one vessel to say, “I will be used here, or there, or not at all”; but it is for God to use us as he pleases.

3. Every private soldier would like to be an officer, but it is only a very few who ever will be; and if every private soldier could be an officer, what kind of an army would it be where all were officers, and none were men in the ranks? So each of us would perhaps like to do something more remarkable than we have done so far; but it is for our great Commander to say to this man, “Stand here,” or to that man, “Go there”; and it ought to be equally a matter of contentment for us whether God permits us to serve him here or there. I think it was good Mr. Jay who used to say that, if there were two angels in heaven, and God wanted one of them to go and be the ruler of a kingdom, and the other to sweep a street-crossing, the two angels would not have the slightest choice which post they would have, provided that they knew they had the Lord’s command to occupy either position. Brother, if ever the Lord should rebuff you, and seem to refuse what you desire to offer to him, do not sulk; do not get upset, as some have done in similar circumstances; but know that the very essence of Christian service is to be willing not to serve in that particular way if, by not serving, God would be all the more glorified. Be willing, oh vessel in the house of the Lord, to be hung up on a nail in the wall, be willing to be laid aside in a corner, if by this God would be glorified, for so it was with David. God would not let him erect the temple which he wished to build, but he gave him great blessings in return for his desires; and then David, instead of sulking, and saying, “Well, then, since I cannot have my own way, I will do nothing at all,” went in, and sat before the Lord, and blessed and praised him, and never uttered one grumbling or surly word, but blessed the name of the Lord from the beginning of his meditation even to its close. Oh, to have a heart moulded in the same way!

4. In the midst of David’s memorable address to God, we find this suggestive expression: “Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to you” I am going to speak on that subject in this way. First, concerning David’s prayer, how did he come by it? Secondly, how did this prayer come to be in his heart? And, thirdly how may we get into such a condition that we shall find prayers in our hearts?

5. I. First, then, HOW DID DAVID COME BY HIS PRAYER? He tells us that he found it in his heart: “Your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to you.”

6. Then it is pretty clear that he looked for it in his heart. How many men seem to begin to pray without really thinking about prayer! They rush, without preparation or thought, into the presence of God. Now, no loyal subject, would seek an audience with his sovereign, to present a petition, without having first carefully prepared it; but many seem to think there is no need to look for a prayer, or to find one, when they approach the mercy seat. They appear to imagine that they have only just to repeat certain words, and to stand or kneel in a certain position, and that is prayer. But David did not make that mistake; he found his prayer in his heart. David and his heart were well acquainted; he had long been accustomed to talk with himself. There are some men, who know a thousand other people, but who do not know themselves; the greatest stranger to them, in the whole world, is their own heart. They have never looked into it, never talked with it, never examined it, never questioned it. They follow its evil devices, but they scarcely know that they have a heart, they so seldom look into it. But David, when he wanted to pray, went and looked into his heart to see what he could find there, and he found in his heart to pray this prayer to God.

7. This leads me to say, dear friends, that the best place in which to find a prayer is to find it in your heart. Some would have taken down a book, and they would have said, “Let us see; what is the day of the month, — how many Sundays after Advent? This is the proper prayer for today.” But David did not go to a book for his prayer, he turned to his heart to see what he could find there so that he might pray to God. Others of us would, perhaps, have been content to find a prayer in our heads. We have been accustomed to extemporize in prayer, and so, perhaps, bowing the knee, we should have felt that the stream of supplication would flow because we are so in the habit of speaking with God in prayer. Ah, dear friend, it is no worse to find a prayer in a book than to find it in your head! It is very much the same thing whether the prayer is printed or is extemporized; unless it comes from the heart, it is equally dead in either case.

8. How many, too, have found a prayer on their lips! It is a very common thing with those who pray in prayer meetings, and those of us who pray in public, for our lips to run much faster than our hearts move, and it is one of the things we need to cry to God to keep us from, lest we should be run away with by our own tongues, as men are, sometimes, run away with by their horses, which they cannot restrain; and you know, the horse never goes faster than when he has very little to carry. And, sometimes, words will come at a very rapid rate when there is very little real prayer conveyed by them. This is not as it ought to be with us, and we must look into our hearts for the desire to pray, and if we do not find it in our hearts to pray a prayer, let us rest assured that we shall not be accepted before the throne of God.

9. How was it that David found this prayer in his heart? I think it was because his heart had been renewed by divine grace. Prayer is a living thing; you cannot find a living prayer in a dead heart. Why do you seek the living among the dead, or search the sepulchre to find the signs and indications of life? No, sir, if you have not been made alive by the grace of God, you cannot pray. The dead cannot pray, and the spiritually dead cannot pray; but the moment you begin to pray, it is a sign that life has been given to you. Ananias knew that Saul was a living soul when God said to him, “Behold, he prays.” “It is all right,” said Ananias; “for the Lord must have quickened his heart.” David found this prayer in his heart because his was a living heart.

10. And he found it there, also, because his was a believing heart. How can a man pray if he does not believe in God, or if he merely thinks that there may be a supernatural Being, somewhere or other in the universe, but that he is not within hail, — and cannot be made to hear, — or is not a living personality, or, if he is, he is too great to care about us, or to listen to the words of a man. But, when the Lord has taught you the truth about his own existence, and his real character, when he has come so near to you that you know that he is the Rewarder of those who diligently seek him, then, in that believing heart of yours prayer will spring up as the grain springs up in the furrows of the field. The Lord, who has sown in your heart the seed of faith, will make that seed to spring up in the green blade of prayer. It must be so; but, until you believe in God, you cannot pray. It would be useless for me to say to some men, “You should pray,” when I remember that Christ has said, “God is a Spirit: and those who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth”; and that is what these men cannot do. How can they, therefore, pray acceptably? “He who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a Rewarder of those who diligently seek him.” Where there is that true faith in God, there is fervent prayer in the heart, but nowhere else.

11. David’s was also a serious heart. Some men’s hearts are flippant, trifling, full of levity. God forbid that we should condemn holy cheerfulness! Just as oil is to the wheels of a machine, so is cheerfulness to a man’s conversation; but there is a frothiness, a superficiality, a frivolity, which is far too common. Some men do not seem to think seriously about anything. They have no settled principles; they are “everything by starts, and nothing for long.” “The Vicar of Bray” {a} is their first cousin. Perhaps they have scarcely as much principle as he had, for they do not so steadily seek their own interests, and scarcely seek any interest at all but that of the transient pleasure of the hour. If that is your case, I do not wonder that you cannot pray. A man says, “I cannot find prayer in my heart.” No, how could you? Yours is a heart full of chaff, full of dust, full of rubbish, — a heart tangled and overgrown with weeds, — a sluggard’s heart, where grow the nettles of evil desire and unholy passion, — where live the burdocks and thistles of idleness and neglect. Oh, may God grant us the grace to have serious hearts, — hearts that are in solemn earnest, — hearts that are intense, — hearts that can really give due heed to things according to their merits, and that give to eternal things their chief concern, because eternal things deserve them best. David’s heart was a serious heart; and, therefore, he found this prayer in it.

12. And, once again, David’s was a humble heart, for a man who is proud will not pray. A man who is self-righteous will not pray, except it is in the manner of the Pharisee, and that was no prayer at all. But a man, humbly conscious of his soul’s needs, and realizing the guilt of his sins, — that is the man to pour out his heart in prayer before the living God. I pray the Lord graciously to break your hearts; for, unless our hearts are broken in penitence, we shall never find in them a real prayer to God.

13. There are some of you who have grown amazingly since your Lord called you by his grace. You were wretched enough when he looked at you, cast out in the open field, covered with blood and filthiness; and he washed you, and clothed you, and nourished you, and now he has even begun to use you in his service, and you are already beginning to be rather proud that he has given you some success. I charge you, brothers and sisters, not to pilfer any of the glory that belongs to God alone. Never begin to throw up your caps, and to cry, “Well done!” It is all over with us if we do that. Keep down low, my brother; keep down low, my sister. The lower we keep, and the more we fear and tremble, — not through unbelief, notice that, (that kind of fear I denounce with all my heart,) but with that really believing trembling and believing fear that grows out of genuine love for Christ, and is not inconsistent with that love, — the more we have of that kind of fear, the more securely we shall walk, and the more it will be safe for God to trust us with his goodness. When your ship floats very high on the water, I hope that you will not have much sail spread, or otherwise the vessel will almost certainly capsize; but when it floats low, almost down to the Plimsoll line, {b} you may hoist as much sail as you like. If you carry very little ballast, and you have huge sails up aloft, the first gust of wind will blow you over; but if you are well ballasted, — that is to say, if you are weighed down with a sense of your own unworthiness, you will weather any gale that you encounter, God the Holy Spirit being in the vessel with you, and holding the helm.

14. I pause here for a moment just to ask each one, — Do you pray? Do you present to God prayers that come from your heart? I do not ask whether you use a form of prayer, or not; but does your heart really go with the prayer you offer? I think I hear someone say, “I always say my prayers.” Ah, my dear friend, there is as great a difference between saying prayers and really praying as there was between the dead child and the living one who were brought before Solomon! Saying prayers is not praying. Why, you might as well say your prayers backward as forward unless your heart goes with them! It is quite extraordinary how some people can use a form of prayer without any thought whatever concerning its meaning. Some time ago, a man, seventy years of age, was asked if he prayed; he replied that he always had prayed, and he would tell the enquirer the prayer he used. It turned out that he still persisted in repeating what his mother taught him when he was a child, “Please, God, bless father and mother, and make me a good boy.” He had gotten those words so deeply ingrained in his memory that he still used them at his advanced age. Naturally, you smile at the story; yet it is very pathetic. It may be an extreme case, but still it is a clear example of what I mean, — that there is a way of merely saying prayers which is rather a mockery of God than a real approach to him such as he desires.

15. “Well,” one says, “I never pray.” I question the truth of that assertion; but if it is true, there is another thing that I do know, and that is this, the time will come when you will want to pray. Let me explain what I mean when I say that I question your assertion about never praying. I have heard men pray who would have thought themselves insulted if they had been told that they did. What awful prayers they have presented to God when they have imprecated on their souls, and bodies, and eyes, and limbs, and children, and everything else, the most terrible curses from God! There are some men who will do this at the least provocation. Oh sirs, be careful that God does not grant you your wicked requests! I am afraid that, when an ungodly man prays in that shameless way, he does find his prayer in his heart; and I am also afraid that his heart must be full of damnation, or he would not find so many oaths in it; for what comes out of a man is what is in him, and when you hear a man swear, you know that there is a good deal of “swear” in his heart, for the language in which he dares to imprecate God’s vengeance proves how alienated his heart must be from God.

16. I would remind you, you who do not pray, that you will want to pray one day. If there were to be a pledge exacted from you that you never would pray to God, — if you were offered money never to pray, suppose you took the money, and promised never to pray, — I know what you would think; you would say to yourself, “What shall I do with this money? It is the price of my soul’s salvation.” It would strike you at once that it was an awful thing never to be allowed to pray, and you would feel that you had sold yourself to the devil, body and soul, and you would be in dire trouble. Well, but, since you say that you never pray, you might as well take the money that is offered to you. Since you do not pray, I do not see what use the privilege of prayer is to you. “If it is of any use to pray to God,” you say, “I shall pray at the last.” Then pray now, for you never know what may be your last moment. Who knows how close you may be to your grave even while you are sitting in your pew? You saw one friend faint, just now; and we have seen hearers fall back dead even while assembled in the congregation. May God grant that we may not see it again! Still, the fact that it has happened is a loud call to all of us telling us to begin to pray.

17. So I have shown you where David found his prayer; he found it in his heart.

18. II. Now, secondly, HOW DID DAVID’S PRAYER COME TO BE IN HIS HEART?

19. I answer that he found it in his heart because the Lord put it there. Every true heart-prayer, that is accepted by God, first came from God. The Lord Jesus passed by David’s heart, and threw this prayer in at the window; and then, when the good man went down to look for a prayer, he found this prayer lying on the floor of his heart ready for him to use.

20. How does God put prayers into a man’s heart? I answer, first, he instructs us how to pray. Not one of us knows how to pray properly until we have been to the school of the Holy Spirit. We do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit comes, and shows us our need. So we see what to pray for. He also shows us what Christ has provided for us, and so we see what we may hope to obtain. He shows us, too, that the way to God is through the precious blood of Jesus, and he leads us along that crimson, blood-sprinkled road, and so, by his instruction, he puts the prayer into our hearts.

21. In the next place, he puts it there by inclining us to pray. Benjamin Beddome wrote, —

    When God inclines the heart to pray,
       He hath an ear to hear; —

and his short hymn contains a great truth. God bends the heart to pray; and, often, he does this by filling us with sorrow; and, then, in the day of our distress, we cry to him. But I have also known him to do it in the sweeter way, as he did with David, by filling the heart with joy until we have been so glad and grateful that we have felt that we must pray, as David did, on another occasion, when he said, “Because he has inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.”

22. So, the Lord puts prayer into our heart by instructing us how to pray and by inclining us to pray.

23. Then he puts prayer into the heart by encouragement. You notice that my text begins with “Therefore.” “Therefore your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to you.” What does David mean by that “therefore?” Why, God had promised to do great things for him; and, my brother or sister, you may always safely ask for what God has promised to give. When he gives you the promise of anything, he does as good as say to you, “Come, my child, ask for this; do not be slow to come to me with your requests.” If the Lord has said that he will bestow any blessing, what greater encouragement to pray can you possibly desire? But this promise, according to the Hebrew, had been given to David in a very special way. In our version, it is rendered, “You have revealed to your servant”; but the marginal reading is, “You have opened the ear of your servant.” A promise in the Bible is, often, a promise to a deaf ear; but the promise, applied by the Spirit of God, goes right through the outer organ, and penetrates to the ear of the soul. I am sure, dear friends, that you can never be backward in prayer when God opens your ear, and puts a promise into it. The richness, the sweetness, the certainty, the preciousness of the promise, when the Holy Spirit seals it home to the heart, makes a man go to his knees, he cannot help doing so; and so, the Lord greatly encourages the needy soul to pray.

24. I will not keep you longer on this point when I have just said that I believe God puts prayers into our hearts by a sense of his general goodness. We see how kind and good he is to the sons of men as a whole; and, therefore, we pray to him. By his special goodness to his own chosen people, we see even more of his compassion and tenderness, and so we are moved to pray to him. He especially puts prayer into our hearts when he gives us a sight of the cross. We see there how greatly Jesus loved us, and, therefore, we pray. We correctly argue that he, who gave Jesus for us, will deny to us nothing that is for our good; and, therefore, again we pray. Often are we stirred up to pray by the memory of former answers to prayer, and sometimes by observing how God hears other men and other women pray. Anyway, it is a blessed thing when the Lord comes by, and scatters the seeds of prayer in our hearts, so that, when we want to pray, we only have to look within our own renewed nature and there we find the prayer that we shall do well to pray to God.

25. III. Our last question, on which I must speak very briefly, is this. WHAT MUST YOU AND I DO IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO FIND PRAYERS IN OUR HEARTS?

26. Ah, dear friends, I am afraid that some of you can do nothing in this matter until, first of all, your hearts are renewed by grace. “Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?” No one. And who can extract an acceptable prayer out of an unaccepted person? No one. So, sinner, you must first come to Jesus, confessing your sin, and looking to his dear wounds, and finding a broken heart within you as the result of his pierced heart; and when the Lord has looked on you in his pardoning love, then you will find many prayers in your heart.

27. I asked a young friend, “Did you pray before conversion?” She answered that she did pray “after a fashion.” I then enquired, “What is the difference between your present prayers and those you offered before you knew the Lord?” Her answer was, “Then, I said my prayers; but, now, I mean them. Then, I said the prayers which other people taught me; but, now, I find them in my heart.” There is good reason to cry “Eureka!” when we find prayer in our heart. Holy Bradford would never cease praying or praising until he found his heart thoroughly engaged in the holy exercise. If it is not in my heart to pray, I must pray until it is. But, oh, the delight of pleading with God when the heart pours out mighty streams of supplication, like a geyser in full action! How mighty is supplication when the whole soul becomes one living, hungering, expecting desire!

28. But some Christian people often feel as if they could not pray; they get into a condition in which they are not able to pray, and that is a very sad state for any child of God to be in. How much do I personally desire ever to possess the true spirit of prayer! When I was at Mr. Rowland Hill’s house at Wotton-under-Edge, many years ago, I asked, “Where did Mr. Hill use to pray?” And the answer of someone, who had known him when he was there, was, “He used to pray everywhere.” I said, “Yes; but did he not have a special place for prayer?” The reply was, “I do not know; I never saw him when he was not praying.” “Well, but,” I asked, “did he not study somewhere?” I was told that he was always studying, wherever he went, yet that he was always in the spirit of prayer. The good old man, at last, had gotten into such a blessed state of mind that, when he sat down on the sofa, he would be going over a familiar hymn; and when he walked in the garden, he would be to-tooting something gracious. You know how they found him, in George Clayton’s chapel over there. His carriage had not come, after the service, and he was walking up and down the aisles, softly singing to himself, —

    And when I’m to die, ‘Receive me,’ I’ll cry;
    For Jesus hath loved me, I cannot tell why;
    But this I do find, we two are so joined,
    He’ll not be in glory, and leave me behind.

Good old soul! he had gotten to a point in his heart to pray always. He used to wander down the Blackfriars Road, with his hands under his coat-tails, and stop to look in very nearly every shop window; but, all the while, he was talking with God just as much as any man could have done who had shut himself up in a cloister. This is a blessed state of mind to be in, — to find as many prayers in your soul as there are hairs on your head; to pray as often as the clock ticks; to wake up in the night, and feel that you have been dreaming prayers; and when you rise in the morning, to find that your first thought is either that of praising God for his many mercies, or else pleading for someone or other who needs your prayers.

29. How are you to get into this state? Well, I cannot tell you, except this; live near to God. If you live near to God, you must pray. He who learns how to live near to God will learn how to pray, and to give thanks to God. Look into your hearts, also, as David did. You cannot find prayer there if you do not look for it. Think much of your own needs, for a good understanding of how many and how great they are will make you pray. When you see others fall, remember that you also will fall unless God holds you up; so make that a reason and subject for prayer. When you see others, who are slack in devotion, or who have become cold in heart, remember you will be as they are if grace does not prevent it. So, let your own needs drive you to prayer.

30. Then read the Scriptures very much; study them; suck the sweetness out of them, for they are sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. You cannot fail to be much in prayer if you spend much time in the reading of the Word. If you will let God speak to you, I am sure you will be constrained to speak with God. Dwell much on the doctrines of the gospel; seek to understand them; live on them, and on the promises, too. It is a blessed temptation to find one of God’s precious promises, for you feel then as if you were tempted to pray, so as to plead it. If a man were to give me a cheque, I do not think I should be so foolish as not to cash it; and if God gives me a promise, which is better than any man’s cheque, the most natural thing is for me to go on my knees to heaven’s bank to seek to have it cashed, — to get the blessing God really promised he would give me. So, keep close by the promises, and even closer to the faithful Promiser. Live to God; live for God; live in God; and you will find prayers come out of your soul as sparks come out of the chimney of the blacksmith’s smithy. If there is a blazing fire within, and the bellows blowing on it, and the smith is hard at work in his calling, the sparks will fly. And in this cold weather, dear brethren, it is necessary to keep our hearts warm. Have you noticed thatched cottages, and other houses where the snow lies on the roof? You say, “Yes.” But have you noticed, where there is a good fire in the house, anywhere near the roof, how soon the snow is melted? And if you want to get warm, and keep warm, in the midst of a cold, graceless world, that chills the very marrow in a believer’s bones, keep a warm heart inside, for that will tend to make it warm outside too. May God grant you this blessing, and keep you always abounding in prayer; and he shall have all the praise.

31. I trust that some, who never prayed before, will try to pray. No one ever sneers at prayer except the man who does not pray, and no one ever denies its efficacy except the man who knows nothing at all about it. And such men are out of court, and have no right to speak on this matter. But men who are honest in other things, and who would be believed in a court of law, should be believed when they bear their solemn testimony that, times without number, God has heard their prayers. Try it, friend. May God help you to try it! Especially begin by believing in Jesus, and then you shall properly seek the Almighty, and he will be found by you. Yes, you shall lift up your eyes to heaven, and the Lord will look down on you, and accept you, and bless you, both now and for ever. May it be so, for his dear Son’s sake! Amen.

{a} “The Vicar of Bray” is a satirical song recounting the career of “The Vicar of Bray” and his contortions of principle in order to retain his ecclesiastic office despite the changes in the Established Church through the course of several English monarchs. See Explorer "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Vicar_of_Bray_(song)" {b} Plimsoll line: The load-line required to be placed on the hulls of British ships. OED.

Expositions By C. H. Spurgeon {2Sa 7:18-29 Lu 18:1-14}

7:18. Then King David went in, and sat before the LORD, —

David desired to build a temple for God, and the prophet Nathan conceiving that such an intention must be acceptable to the Most High, told the king to proceed with it; but God’s mind was otherwise, and Nathan had to tell David that it was good that it was in his heart, but that God intended the temple to be built, not by him, but by his son Solomon. However, the Lord gave to David very large promises, and when he had received them, through Nathan, he was so overcome with gratitude that he went in, and “sat before the Lord.” That was his posture in prayer on this occasion. Good men have been known to pray kneeling, which seems to be the most natural position. Some have prayed with their faces between their knees, as Elijah did. Some have prayed standing, as the tax collector did. Some have prayed sitting, as David did. Probably, he was mixing prayer and meditation when he “sat before the Lord,” —

18. And he said, “Who am I, oh Lord GOD! and what is my house, that you have brought me so far?

How often has a similar feeling leaped into our heart! Why should the Lord have dealt so well with us?

    What was there in you that could merit esteem,
       Or give the Creator delight?

19. And yet this was a little thing in your sight, oh Lord GOD; but you have spoken also of your servant’s house for a great while to come. And is this the manner of man, oh Lord GOD?

No; man could not have been so kind as that. The love of Jesus surpasses the love of women, and the love of God surpasses all the kindness of men.

20. And what can David say more to you? For you, Lord GOD, know your servant.

“What I cannot utter, you can perceive in my heart, though I cannot express it.”

21-25. For your word’s sake, and according to your own heart, you have done all these great things, to make your servant know them. Therefore you are great, oh LORD God: for there is no one like you, neither is there any God besides you, according to all that we have heard with our ears. And what one nation in the earth is like your people, even like Israel, whom God went to redeem for a people for himself, and to make him a name, and to do for you great things and terrible, for your land, before your people, whom you redeemed for yourself from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? For you have made your people Israel to be a people for you for ever: and you, LORD, are become their God. And now, oh LORD God, the word that you have spoken concerning your servant, and concerning his house, establish it for ever, and do as you have said.

That is a very short, but extremely pithy prayer: “Do as you have said.” You do not need any larger promises, brethren, than the Lord has already given to you: could he give you any larger ones?

    What more can he say than to you he hath said,
    You who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?

What you have to do is to take the promises he has given, and spread them out before the mercy seat, and then say to him, “Do as you have said.” What strength there is in this plea! “Has he said, and shall he not do it?” Will he break his promise, or shall his right hand fail to perform what has gone out from his lips? Far be it from us to think so, but let us say to him, “Do as you have said.” That is the very essence of prayer. Be careful not to forget it.

26-29. And let your name be magnified for ever, saying, ‘The LORD of hosts is the God over Israel’: and let the house of your servant David be established before you. For you, oh LORD of hosts, God of Israel, have revealed to your servant, saying, ‘I will build you a house’: therefore your servant has found it in his heart to pray this prayer to you. And now, oh Lord GOD, you are that God, and your words are true, and you have promised this goodness to your servant: therefore now let it please you to bless the house of your servant, so that it may continue for ever before you:

You see how he clings to God’s promise: “You have promised this goodness to your servant.” If you get a promise from the Lord, and cling to it as you wrestle with the angel, you will surely prevail. You must win the blessing if you can plead, as David did, “You have promised this goodness to your servant.”

29. For you, oh Lord GOD, have spoken it:

How he dwells on it!

29. And with your blessing let the house of your servant be blessed for ever.”

Now let us read two of our Lord’s parables concerning prayer.

18:1-8. And he spoke a parable to them to this end that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, “There was in a city a judge, who did not fear God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, ‘Avenge me of my adversary.’ And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, ‘Though I do not fear God, nor regard man; yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she wearies me.’ ” And the Lord said, “Hear what the unjust judge says. And shall not God avenge his own elect, who cry day and night to him, though he bears long with them. I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?”

The whole force of this parable goes to show the prevalence of persistence. If you cannot get your desire from God the first time, go again, and, if needs be, go again seven times. Yes, if needs be, in submission to his will, go seventy times seven. I am afraid there is no fear of our having to be asked the question, “Will you weary my God also?” Oh, no! we do not pray enough for that, neither are we so persistent as this poor widow was. Let us prove the power of persistent prayer, and rest assured that heaven’s gate must open if we only know how to knock, and that the blessing must be given if we only continue to ask for it, for praying breath is never spent in vain.

9-11. And he spoke this parable to certain who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed like this with himself, ‘God I thank you, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.

And he drew up his skirts, and got up wind, for fear lest any breath that should blow from the tax collector should defile his sanctified person.

12. I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess.’

It was not a prayer at all, as you perceive. It was a thanksgiving; but the thanksgiving was merely a veil for self-adulation.

13. And the tax collector, standing afar off, —

Not daring to come near to the inner shrine, —

13. Would not lift up so much as his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God be merciful to me a sinner.’

I do not suppose that he thought he had really prayed; he scarcely dared to call it prayer. Perhaps, as he went home, he said, “I went up to the temple to pray, but I was so bowed down with a sense of my guilt that I could not pray.” But that was not our Lord’s verdict: —

14. I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for everyone who exalts himself shall be abased; and he who humbles himself shall be exalted.”

 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Public Worship, Prayer Meetings — Prayer For Unbelievers” 992}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “Public Worship, Prayer Meetings — ‘Teach Us To Pray’ ” 996}
 {See Spurgeon_Hymnal “God the Father, Acts, Covenant — The Covenant God Extolled” 229}


Public Worship, Prayer Meetings
992 — Prayer For Unbelievers
1 Thou Son of God, whose flaming eyes
      Our inmost thoughts perceive,
   Accept the humble sacrifice,
      Which now to thee we give.
2 We bow before thy gracious throne,
      And think ourselves sincere;
   But show us, Lord, is every one
      Thy real worshipper?
3 Is here a soul that knows thee not,
      Nor feels his want of thee,
   A stranger to the blood which bought
      His pardon on the tree?
4 Convince him now of unbelief;
      His desperate state explain;
   And fill his heart with sacred grief,
      And penitential pain.
5 Speak with that voice which wakes the dead,
      And bid the sleeper rise!
   And bid his guilty conscience dread
      The death that never dies.
                        Charles Wesley, 1767.


Public Worship, Prayer Meetings
996 — “Teach Us To Pray”
1 Lord, teach us how to pray aright,
      With reverence and with fear;
   Though dust and ashes in thy sight,
      We may, we must draw near.
2 We perish if we cease from prayer;
      Oh grant us power to pray;
   And when to meet thee we prepare,
      Lord, meet us by the way.
                  James Montgomery, 1819.


God the Father, Acts, Covenant
229 — The Covenant God Extolled <6.8.4.>
1 The God of Abraham praise
      Who reigns enthroned above,
   Ancient of everlasting days,
      And God of love!
      Jehovah, great I AM!
      By earth and heaven confest;
   I bow, and bless the sacred name,
      For ever blest!
2 The God of Abraham praise,
      At whose supreme command,
   From earth I rise, and seek the joys
      At his right hand:
      I all on earth forsake,
      Its wisdom, fame, and power;
   And him my only portion make,
      My shield and tower.
3 The God of Abraham praise,
      Whose all-sufficient grace
   Shall guide me all my happy days
      In all his ways:
      He calls a worm his friend,
      He calls himself my God!
   And he shall save me to the end,
      Through Jesus’ blood.
4 He by himself hath sworn,
      I on his oath depend;
   I shall, on eagles’ wings upborne,
      To heaven ascend:
      I shall behold his face,
      I shall his power adore,
   And sing the wonders of his grace
      For evermore.
            THE SECOND PART.
5 Though nature’s strength decay,
      And earth and hell withstand,
   To Canaan’s bounds I urge my way
      At his command:
      The watery deep I pass
      With Jesus in my view,
   And through the howling wilderness
      My way pursue.
6 The goodly land I see,
      With peace and plenty blest;
   A land of sacred liberty,
      And endless rest:
      There milk and honey flow
      And oil and wine abound,
   And trees of life for ever grow,
      With mercy crown’d.
7 There dwells the Lord our King,
      The Lord our righteousness!
   Triumphant o’er the world and sin,
      The Prince of Peace.
      On Sion’s sacred height,
      His kingdom still maintains;
   And glorious with his saints in light,
      For ever reigns.
8 The whole triumphant host
      Give thanks to God on high,
   “Hail Father, Son, and Holy Ghost!”
      They ever cry:
      Hail, Abraham’s God, and mine!
      I join the heavenly lays;
   All might and majesty are Thine,
         And endless praise.
                     Thomas Olivers, 1772.

Spurgeon Sermons

These sermons from Charles Spurgeon are a series that is for reference and not necessarily a position of Answers in Genesis. Spurgeon did not entirely agree with six days of creation and dives into subjects that are beyond the AiG focus (e.g., Calvinism vs. Arminianism, modes of baptism, and so on).

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Modernized Edition of Spurgeon’s Sermons. Copyright © 2010, Larry and Marion Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario, Canada. Used by Answers in Genesis by permission of the copyright owner. The modernized edition of the material published in these sermons may not be reproduced or distributed by any electronic means without express written permission of the copyright owner. A limited license is hereby granted for the non-commercial printing and distribution of the material in hard copy form, provided this is done without charge to the recipient and the copyright information remains intact. Any charge or cost for distribution of the material is expressly forbidden under the terms of this limited license and automatically voids such permission. You may not prepare, manufacture, copy, use, promote, distribute, or sell a derivative work of the copyrighted work without the express written permission of the copyright owner.

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