Many people pray, but how many people ask themselves why God should actually answer their prayers? How many Christians know how to argue with God in prayer?
You need to understand that effectual praying is always going to be based on you presenting your petitions before God and using arguments. What do you mean by that? I try to do a little exercise every now and then in church when people have prayer requests. If I were to say, hey, does anyone have any prayer requests? And you were to raise your hand and you asked for prayer for a prayer request, we always come back and ask the question why? “Pray for me. I need to study for this exam, and I need to make an A.” Why? “Well, because I need to make an A?” Yeah, but why do you need to make an A? In other words it’s going to make them think through: you’re going to go to God and you’re going to ask Him for something. So we’re just filling the place to ask another question behind that. Why should God do that? You’re asking Him to do X, Y, and Z. Why should He save your daughter? “Pray for my daughter. She’s unsaved.” Why? “Well, we don’t want her to die and go to hell.” Okay. And why would that be a bad thing or a good thing? What is it? See, I’m getting you to think through kind of like a lawyer, you’re going to go into the courtroom of Heaven and you’re going to file a petition – I don’t know if we’ve got any lawyers in here – but by trade, I’m a court reporter. So I take depositions. I hear a lot of legal stuff. But petitions are worded and they start off, “I pray thee…” because they’re a prayer. You’re going to the court. You’re going before a judge and you’re going to ask a prayer request. That’s what it is. So when you file your petition, you’ve got to back up the petition. Because the judge is going to take the petition from you and say why should I give you that? You’ve got to have reasons. Have you ever prayed to God asking for something and having reasons? Argue with Him over the reasons? Now we’re talking about prayer. See, this isn’t vain repetition. And this widow in Luke 18 who every day goes before the judge – if she was smart, she’d keep coming back with a new reason for him to give her relief from her issue. Mr. Judge, I’ve got another reason why you should hear what I’m saying. You know, kids are great at this. They’re little lawyers around your feet. “I want the candy! I want the candy!” No, no, no. You can’t have the candy. No, can’t do it. Can’t have the candy. “But even the dogs get the crumbs.” See, the Syrophoenician woman knew how to argue with her petition. “Can’t give the children’s bread to the dogs…” (Called me a dog). “You know, dogs eat crumbs.” “You know? You’re right. Go.” See, she argued for her petition before the Lord. Effectual praying. And that’s why you have ineffectual ones. Because if the Holy Spirit’s going to groan, He’s also going to do what? It’s not just necessary for the work of the Holy Spirit, it’s necessary for the growth of the believer in prayer. He’s going to train you and teach you, saying, “You want something? I want to hear the reasons why.” Now just to give you a few examples. The Bible is loaded with them. I can’t go through all of them – of people who prayed with arguments. Jacob – Genesis 32. “And Jacob said, ‘Oh God of my father Abraham and God of my father Isaac, O Lord, who didst say to me…” here’s His Word, “You said to me…” “Return to your country and to your relatives…” and this and this, “And You said I will surely prosper you.” So he’s using God’s own words back to God saying, “You said…” and “You said,” so I’m just asking that You do what You said. Moses. “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘I have seen this people and behold they are an obstinate people. Now let Me alone that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them. And I will make you a great nation.” Then Moses said I’ve had it. I’m tired of them too. No, he doesn’t do that. He does what? He entreats the Lord and says, “Oh Lord, why dost Thou Thine anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?” Argument. I’ve got one. “Why should the Egyptians speak saying…” you know something? “With evil intent, God brought them out to kill them in the mountains…” (unintelligible) Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob You made your promise to? And what You said to them? So the Lord changed His mind and didn’t destroy the people. Moses arguing with reasons like a lawyer before the Lord. He even goes so far one time when God’s going to blot them out again and he says if You’re going to blot them out, blot me out from the Book that You’ve written. Who says that? God says, “I’ll forgive him.” There’s many, many more. Exodus 33. I’ve got examples of David that does this. I’ve got examples of Ezra that does this. We’ve got many, many examples. Nehemiah who does this. Daniel does this. You can read in Scripture, when you read their prayers, you read that they have what? Prayers of argumentation. Now, lastly, what you need to understand if you’re going to argue your supplications before the Lord, where do you get your arguments from? You get them from the Bible. One of the best resources to argue your case before the Lord is the attributes of God. Spurgeon says, “You and I may take hold at any time upon the justice, the mercy, the faithfulness, the wisdom, the longsuffering, the tenderness of God, and we shall find every attribute of the Most High to be as it were a great battering ram with which we may open the gates of Heaven.” He says, “If you have a divine promise, you need not plead with God with an ‘if,’ you plead with a certainty.” It’s a promise. The attributes of God. Lord, You’re a merciful God. Would You show mercy? See, that’s an argument. You’re arguing your case for mercy, to receive mercy based upon God being merciful. You love to show mercy. How many times when someone is just not a Christian and we’ll just simply ask the Lord, “Would You continue to be slow to anger?” “Would You slow down just a little more with this person?” “Could You be quick to forgive for this person because You say You’re quick to forgive.” I’m using His attributes as an argument. Many times the names of God can be used as an argument in prayers. Yahweh, Adonai, Lord of Hosts against the satanic forces. The sorrows of God’s people can be used as an argument. And many times when you’re praying for lost loved ones, what kind of arguments do you think you can think about that you can use? Here’s one, “Lord, You came to rob the strongman of his possessions.” Let’s go rob him again. It’s a win-win. You win. I win. I’m praying for my lost loved one here. I get something. You get something. Who loses? The devil. Let’s do it. But I’m arguing because I know that’s the purpose of what God came to do. So I’m using the purpose of what He came to do as an argument in prayer for a lost loved one. Father, we sing “O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing.” Can we sing “O, For a Thousand and One Tongues to Sing”? One more tongue to sing? That tongue’s not singing. And You deserve the praise from that tongue. And it’s in the strongman’s household right now. Can we liberate that tongue so it can praise You? If it goes into the grave, it’s not going to praise You. If it goes into hell, it’s going to weep and gnash its teeth. No! You’re worthy of a thousand and one tongues to praise You. Aren’t you, Lord? I’m arguing. See, that takes energy. And that takes thought. You can’t mindlessly: Well, Lord, if it’s Your will, save them… I can pray that throwing that back on the sovereignty of God all day long. But I’m not engaged in arguing like a lawyer before a jury on why they should give me a verdict of salvation for a lost loved one. That’s why it requires faith. You’re actually taking the things of God and you’re bringing them into the courtroom there. But lastly, the last thing about incense, just like about arguments, it does no good staying in the box. You’ve got to burn incense. You’ve got to be fervent. If you want that prayer request, you have to be passionate with the arguments. Not just passionate in the sense of emotionally blowing up. You’ve got to be dead earnest in it. Where you lose sleep praying. You lose appetite eating. You lose the ability to go to work. Good things. These aren’t negative evil things. Why? Because I’ve got too much on my plate to pray for. Many times in a prayer meeting, instead of maybe coming with twenty things to pray about, I’m not saying don’t do that. Take one and say we’re going to pray for this brother or we’re going to pray for this church or we’re going to pray for this mission or whatever. And come with arguments. because as we’re praying for this one person, and you’re going to all line up like lawyers because remember, you guys are lawyers. You’re the only ones that have a bar roll number in heaven. You’re the only ones that God’s going to accept in your prayers. And only you can represent clients who are lost. So you bring that case. We bring that prayer request and we say we’re going to pray and bring your arguments for that prayer request. And we’re going to seek God’s face. And let’s stay the course until He answers it. Now we’re serious about God answering a prayer. Because we can’t do that in the flesh. And as we study the Scriptures and we say why should God answer this prayer? Let me see, Lord. Well, you know, 1 Timothy 2. You desire all men to be saved. There you go. It’s a desire of Yours to save. I’m not praying something contrary to Your desires. Because we know if you pray outside of the will of God, He’s not going to hear, but this says it’s the will of God. So I’m inside the will. Make it the decree. (incomplete thought) Why did You give me that child to pray for in my life? You saved me. They’re not saved. You put me in close proximity for what reason? To sit here and just watch them die in their sins and go to hell? No, to pray for them. And since You put me there providentially, I’m going to use the providences that You’ve given me with this child to ask You, Lord, to save them. Because if You really didn’t want to save them why would You put me next to them praying for them? See, I’m arguing. You have to argue with God. When I say argue, I don’t mean disagree with Him. I mean presenting your case, making your case. Then, and only then, will your bothering God in Luke 18 be a holy bothersome. There’s a difference between bothering God and whining before God like the Pharisee was doing basically touting his own thing. No.