Sermon 2869. Prayer Found in the Heart
A SERMON PUBLISHED ON THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 1904.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JANUARY 16, 1876.
"Therefore has Your servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto You." 2 Samuel 7:27.
It is a very blessed thing for a child of God to be anxious to glorify his Heavenly Father, whether his wish is realized ornot. The strong desire to magnify God is acceptable to Him and is an indication of spiritual health. It is certain, in thelong run, to bring blessing to our own souls and I have frequently noticed that when we earnestly desire to do something specialfor 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 you a house."So, although David may not build a house for God, it is well that the plan of it is in his heart and God, in return, buildsup his house, and sets his son and his son's son upon the throne after him. But, my dear Friend, if you should not find anopportunity to do all that is in your heart, yet, nevertheless, it is well that it is there. Carry out the project if youcan, but if you cannot, it may be that as you have desired to deal with the Lord, so will He deal with you. If you have sownsparingly, you shall reap sparingly. If you have sown liberally, you shall reap largely, for, often and often, the Lord'sdealings with His own people are a sort of echo to their hearts of their dealings with Him.
Sometimes it happens that God will not let His servants do what they would most of all like to do. David had long been storingup gold and silver in great quantities that he might build that house for the Lord. It had been the great project of his lifethat he might make a fit sanctuary for the Ark of the Covenant. "I dwell," he said, "in a house of cedar, but the Ark of Goddwells within curtains." The dream of his life was that he might build a magnificent temple which would be supremely gorgeousfor architecture and rich in all the treasures of the ends of the earth-that there the Ark of his God might be appropriatelyhoused. But the Lord would not have it so. David might pray about it and think about it, and plan about it and save his moneyfor 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 had not the proper gifts and qualificationsfor the ministry, but they felt that they must preach-so they have strived very hard, but at all points they have met withrebuffs. People who have heard them once, have been quite satisfied, but have not desired to hear them again. Doors have beenshut against them, no conversions have followed their efforts and thus God has said to each one of them, "Not so, My son.Not in that way shall you serve Me." And there are others who have had other plans in their heads-Brothers and Sisters whohave arranged wonderful schemes and plans which they have dreamed over and said, "Thus and thus will we serve God." Yet, hitherto,my Brother, you have had to keep to the workman's bench. And you, my Sister, have had to keep to nursing those little children.Up till now you have not been very successful in any special path of usefulness, or that which is commonly thought to be thepath 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 vesselto say, "I will be used here, or there, or not at all." It is for Godto use us as He pleases!
Every private soldier would like to be an officer, but it is only a very few who ever will be. And if every private soldiercoulddbe an officer, what sort of an army would it be where all were officers and none were men in the ranks? So we would,perhaps, each of us, like to do something more remarkable than we havedone, 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 to us whetherGod 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 Heavenand God wanted one of them to go and be the ruler of a kingdom, and the other to sweep a crossing, the two angels would nothave the slightest dispute as to which post they would have, provided that they knew they had the Lord's command to occupyeither position. Brother, if ever the Lord should rebuff you and seem to refuse that which you desire to offer Him, do notsulk-do not get into a bad spirit, as some have done in similar circumstances-but know that the very essence of Christianservice is to be willing notto serve in that particular way if, by not serving, God would be the more glorified! Be willing,O 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 so Godwould be glorified, for thus was it with David. God would not let him erect the temple which he wished to build, but He gavehim great blessings in return for his desires. And then David, instead of sulking and saying, "Well, then, as I cannot havemy own will, I will do nothing at all," went in and sat before the Lord and blessed and praised Him-he never uttered one grumblingor surly word-but blessed the name of the Lord from the beginning of his meditation even to its close. Oh, to have a heartmolded after the same fashion!
In the midst of David's memorable address to God, we meet with this suggestive expression-"Your servant has found in his heartto pray this prayer unto You." I am going to speak upon that subject in this way. First, concerning David's prayer-how didhe come byit?Secondly, how came this prayer to be in his heart? And thirdly, how may we get into such a condition that weshall find prayers in our hearts?
I. First, then, HOW DID DAVID COME BY HIS PRAYER? He tells us that he found it in his heart-"Your servant has found in hisheart to pray this prayer unto You."
Then it is pretty clear that he looked for it in his heart. How many men seem to begin to pray without really thinking aboutprayer! They rush, without preparation or thought, into the Presence of God. Now, no loyal subject would seek an audienceof his sovereign, to present a petition, without having first carefully prepared it. But many seem to think there is no needto look for a prayer, or to find one, when they approach the Mercy Seat. They appear to imagine that they have only to repeatcertain words and to stand or kneel in a certain attitude-and that is prayer. But David did not make that mistake. He foundhis prayer in his heart. David and his heart were well acquainted-he had long been accustomed to talk with himself. Thereare some men who know a thousand other people, but who do not know themselves! The greatest stranger to them in the wholeworld is their own heart. They have never looked into it, never talked with it, never examined it, never questioned it. Theyfollow its evil devices, but they scarcely know that they have a heart, they so seldom look into it. But David, when he wantedto pray, went and looked in his heart to see what he could find there-and he found in his heart to pray this prayer to God.
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 wouldhave fetched 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 hecould find there that he might pray unto 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 would have felt that the stream of supplicationwould flow because we are so habituated to speaking with God in prayer. Ah, dear Friend, it is no worse to find a prayer ina book than to find it in your head! It is very much the same thing whether the prayer is printed or is extemporized-unlessit comes from the heart-it is equally dead in either case.
How many, too, have found a prayer upon their lips! It is a very common thing with those who pray in Prayer Meetings and thoseof 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 cryto God to keep us from, lest we should be run away with by our own tongues, as men are, sometimes, run away with by theirhorses 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 bewith us. 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, letus rest assured that we shall not be accepted before the Throne of God.
How was it that David found this prayer in his heart? I think it was because his heart had been renewed by Divine Grace. Prayeris a living thing-you cannot find a living prayer in a dead heart. Why seek you the living among the dead, or search the sepulcherto find the signs and tokens 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 asign that life has been given to you. Ananias knew that Saul was a living soul when God said to him, "Behold, he prays." "Itis all right," said Ananias, "for the Lord must have quickened his heart." David found this prayer in his heart because hiswas a living heart!
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 hemerely thinks that there maybe a supernatural Being, somewhere or other in the universe, but that He is not near- and cannotbe 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 wordsof a man? But when the Lord has taught you the Truth of God about His own Existence and His real Character-when He has comeso near to you that you know that He is the Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him-then, in that believing heart of yours,prayer will spring up as the corn springs up in the furrows of the field! The Lord, who has sown in your heart the seed offaith, will make that seed to spring up in the green blade of prayer. It must be so, but, until you believe in God, you cannotpray. It would be useless for me to say to some men, "You should pray," when I recollect that Christ has said, "God is a Spirit:and they that 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 that comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a Rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."Where there is that true faith in God, there is fervent prayer in the heart, but nowhere else!
David's was also a serious heart. Some men's hearts are flippant, trifling, full of levity. God forbid that we should condemnholy cheerfulness! As oil 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 nosettled principles. They are "everything by starts, and nothing long." "The Vicar of Bray" is their first cousin. Perhapsthey have scarcely as much principle as he had, for they do not so steadily seek their own interests and scarcely seek anyinterest 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-aheart tangled and overgrown with weeds-a sluggard's heart, where grow the nettles of evil desire and unholy passion-wherelive the docks and thistles of idleness and neglect. Oh, may God grant us the Grace to have serious hearts-hearts that arein solemn earnest-hearts that are intense-hearts that can really give due heed to things according to their merits and thatgive 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.
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 fashion 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 Lordgraciously to break our hearts, for, unless our hearts are broken in penitence, we shall never find in them a real prayerunto God.
There are some of you who have got on wonderfully since your Lord called you by His Grace. You were wretched enough when Helooked at you, cast out in the open field, covered with blood and filthiness. And He washed you, clothed you, nourished youand now He has even begun to use you in His service and you are already beginning to be rather proud that He has given yousome success. I charge you, Brothers and Sisters, not to pilfer any of the Glory that belongs to God alone! Never begin tothrow up your caps and to cry, "Well done!" It is all up with us if we do that. Stay down low, my Brother. Stay down low,my Sister. The lower we are and the more we fear and tremble-not through unbelief, mark you, (that kind of fear I denouncewith all my heart), but with that really believing trembling and believingfear that grows out of genuine love to Christ andis not inconsistent with that love-the more we have of that sort of fear, the more securely shall we walk and the more willit be safe for God to trust us with His goodness! When your ship floats very high upon the water, I hope that you will nothave much sail spread, or else the vessel will almost certainly go over. But when it floats low, almost down to the Plimsollline, you may crowd on as much sail as you like. If you carry but little ballast and you have huge sails up aloft, the firstgust of wind will topple you over. But if you are well ballasted-that is to say, if you are weighed down with a sense of yourown unworthiness-you will weather any gale that may come upon you, God the Holy Spirit being in the vessel with you and holdingthe helm!
I pause here a moment just to ask each one-Do you pray? Do you present to God prayers that come from your heart? I do notask whether you use a form of prayer, or not, but does your heart really go with the prayer you offer? I think I hear someonesay, "I always say my prayers." Ah, my dear Friend, there is as great a difference between saying prayers and really prayingas there was between the dead child and the living one that 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 somepeople can use a form of prayer without any thought whatever as to its meaning. Some time ago, a man, 70 years of age, wasasked if he prayed. He replied that he always had prayed, and he would tell the enquirer the prayer he used. It turned outthat he still persisted in repeating what his mother taught him when he was a child, "Pray, God, bless Father and Mother,and make me a good boy." He had got those words so deeply engraved upon his memory that he still kept to them at his advancedage! Naturally, you smile at the story, yet it is very pitiful. It may be an extreme instance, but still it is a clear instanceof 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 suchas He desires.
"Well," says one, "I never pray." I question the truth of that assertion, but if it is true, there is another thing that Ido 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 questionyour assertion about never praying. I have heard men pray who would have thought themselves insulted if they had been toldthat they did. What awful prayers they have presented to God when they have imprecated upon their souls, bodies, eyes, limbs,children and everything else, the most terrible curses from God! There are some men who will do this at the least provocation.O Sirs, mind that God does not grant you your wicked requests! I am afraid that when an ungodly man prays in that shamelessway, 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 findso many oaths in it. That which comes out of a man is what is in him, and when you hear a man swear, you know that there isa deal of "swear" in his heart, for the language in which he dares to imprecate God's vengeance proves how alienated his heartmust be from God.
I would remind you, who do not pray, that you will need to pray one day. If there were to be a pledge exacted from you thatyou never would pray to God-if you were offered money to never 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 to never be allowed to pray and you would feel that you had sold yourselfto the devil-body and soul-and you would be in dire trouble. Well, but as you say that you never pray, you might as well takethe money that is offered to you. As you do not pray, I do not see what use the privilege of prayer is to you. "If it is ofany 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, andwe have seen hearers fall back dead even while gathered in the congregation! God grant that we may not see it again! Still,the fact that it has happened is a loud call to all of us bidding us begin to pray!
Thus I have shown you where David found his prayer. He found it in his heart. II. Now, secondly, HOW CAME DAVID'S PRAYER TOBE IN HIS HEART?
I answer that he found it in his heart because the Lord put it there. Every true heart-prayer that is accepted of God, firstcame from God. The Lord Jesus passed by David's heart and threw this prayer in at the window and then, when the good man wentdown to look for a prayer, he found this prayer lying on the floor of his heart ready for him to use.
How does God put prayers into a man's heart? I answer, first, He instructs us how to pray. We, none of us, know how to prayaright till we have been to the school of the Holy Spirit. We know not what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spiritcomes and shows us our need. Thus we see what to pray for. He also shows us what Christ has provided for us and thus we seewhat 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 alongthat crimson, blood-sprinkled road and so, by His instruction, He puts the prayer into our hearts.
In the next place, He puts it there by inclining us to pray. Benjamin Beddome wrote-
"When God inclines the heart to pray He has an ear to hear"-
and his short hymn contains a great Truth of God. God bends the heart to pray and, oftentimes, He does this by filling uswith sorrow and then, in the day of our distress, we cry unto Him. But I have also known Him do it in the sweeter way, asHe did with David, by filling the heart with joy till 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 unto me, therefore will I call upon Him aslong as I live."
So, the Lord puts prayer into our heart by instructing us how to pray and by inclining us to pray.
Then He puts prayer into the heart by encouragement. You notice that my text begins with, "Therefore." "Therefore has Yourservant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto You." What does David mean by that, "therefore"? Why, God had promisedto do great things for him and, my Brother or Sister, you may always safely ask for that which God has promised to give! WhenHe gives you the promise of anything, He does as good as say to you, "Come, My child, ask for this. Be not slow to come toMe with your requests." If the Lord has said that He will bestow any blessing, what greater encouragement to pray can youpossibly desire? But this promise, according to the Hebrew, had been given to David in a very special manner. 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 throughthe outer organ and penetrates to the ear of the soul! I am sure, dear Friends, that you can never be backward in prayer whenGod opens your ear and puts a promise into it. The richness, the sweetness, the sureness, 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 thus the Lord greatlyencourages the needy soul to pray.
I will not keep you longer upon this point when I have just said that I believe God puts prayers into our hearts by a senseof 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 Hisspecial goodness to His own chosen people, we see still more of His compassion and tenderness, and so we are moved to prayto Him. Especially does He put prayer into our hearts when He gives us a sight of the Cross. We see there how greatly Jesusloved us and, therefore, we pray. We rightly argue that He who gave Jesus for us will deny to us nothing that is for our goodand, therefore, again we pray. Often are we stirred up to pray by the recollection of former answers to prayer and, sometimes,by observing how God hears other men and other women pray. Anyhow, it is a blessed thing when the Lord comes by and scattersthe seeds of prayer in our hearts so that when we want to pray, we have only to look within our own renewed nature and therewe find the prayer that we shall do well to pray unto God!
III. Our last question, upon which I must speak but briefly, is this. WHAT MUST YOU AND I DO IN ORDER TO BE ABLE TO FIND PRAYERSIN OUR HEARTS?
Ah, dear Friends, I am afraid that some of you can do nothing in this matter until, first of all, your hearts are renewedby Grace. "Who can bring a clean thing out of an unclean?" No one. And who can fetch an acceptable prayer out of an unacceptedperson? No one. So, Sinner, you must first come to Jesus, confessing your sin and looking to His dear wounds, and findinga broken heart within you as the result of His pierced heart. And when the Lord has looked upon you in His pardoning love,then you will find many prayers in your heart!
I asked a young friend, "Did you pray before conversion?" She answered that she did pray "after a sort." 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 myheart." There is good reason to cry, "Eureka!" when we find prayer in our heart. Holy Bradford would never cease praying orpraising till he found his heart thoroughly engaged in the holy exercise. If it is not in my heart to pray, I must pray tillit is. But, oh, the delight of pleading with God when the heart casts forth mighty jets of supplication like a geyser in fullaction! How mighty is supplication when the whole soul becomes one living, hungering, expecting desire!
But some Christian people often feel as if they could not pray. They get into a condition in which they are not able to prayand that is a very sad state for any child of God to be in. How much do I personally desire to always possess the true spiritof prayer! When I was at Mr. Rowland Hill's house at Wotton-Under-Edge, many years ago, I asked, "Where did Mr. Hill use topray?" And the answer of someone who had known him when he was there, was, "He used to pray everywhere." I said, "Yes, butdid 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 got into such a blessed stateof 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 wouldbe to-tooting something gracious! You know how they found him, in George Clayton's chapel over yonder. His carriage had notcome, 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 has loved me, I cannot tell why. But this I do find, we two are sojoined, He'll not be in Glory and leave me behind!"
Good old Soul! He had got to find it in his heart to pray always. He used to wander down the Blackfriars Road with his handsunder his coattails and stop to look in very nearly every shop-window, but, all the while, he was talking with God just asmuch 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 asmany 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 andfeel that you have been dreaming prayers! And when you rise in the morning, to find that your first thought is either thatof praising God for His many mercies, or else pleading for somebody or other who needs your prayers!
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 mustpray. He that 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 realization of howmany and how great they are will make you pray. When you see the falls of others, recollect that you also will fall unlessGod holds you up-so make that a reason and subject for prayer. When you see others who are slack in devotion, or who havebecome cold in heart, remember you will be as they are if Grace does not prevent. So, let your own needs drive you to prayer.
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 compelled to speak with God. Dwell much upon the Doctrines of the Gospel. Seek to understand them. Liveupon them and upon the promises, too. If a man were to give me a check, I do not think I should be so foolish as not to cashit. And if God gives me a promise, which is better than any man's check, the most natural thing is for me to go on my kneesto Heaven's bank to seek to have it changed-to get the blessing God really promised He would give me! So, keep hard by thepromises, and still closer to the faithful Promiser! Live to God. Live for God. Live inGod and you will find prayers comeout of your soul as sparks come out of the chimney of the blacksmith's smithy! If there is a blazing fire within and the bellowsblowing it up and the smith is hard at work in his calling, the sparks will fly. And in this cold weather, dear Brothers andSisters, 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 noticedwhere there is a good fire in the house, anywhere near the roof, how soon the snow is melted? And if you want to get warmand stay warm in the midst of a cold, graceless world that chills the very marrow in a Believer's bones, keep a warm heartinside, for that will tend to make it warm outside, too! God grant you this blessing and keep you ever abounding in prayer-andHe shall have all the praise.
I do trust that some who never prayed before, will try to pray. Nobody ever sneers at prayer but the man who does not pray.And nobody ever denies its efficacy but the man who knows nothing at all about it. And such men are out of court and haveno right to speak upon this matter. But men who are honest in other things and who would be believed in a court of law, shouldbe believed when they bear their solemn testimony that times without number God has heard their prayers! Try it, Friend. Godhelp you to try it! Especially begin by believing in Jesus and then shall you rightly seek unto the Almighty and He will befound of you. Yes, you shall lift up your eyes to Heaven and the Lord will look down upon you and accept you, and bless you,both now and forever! So may it be, for His dear Son's sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 2SAMUEL 7:18-29;LUKE 18:1-14.
2 Samuel 7:18. Then went king David in, and sat before the LORD. David desired to build a temple for God and the Prophet Nathan, conceivingthat such a design must be acceptable to the Most High, told the king to proceed with it. But God's mind was otherwise andNathan had to tell David that it was well 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 attitude. Some have prayed with their facesbetween their knees, as Elijah did. Some have prayed standing, as the publican did. Some have prayed sitting, as David did.Probably he was mingling prayer and meditation when he "sat before the Lord."
18. And he said, Who am I, O Lord GOD? And what is my house, that You have brought me here?How often has a similar feelingleaped 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 this was yet a small thing in Your sight, O Lord GOD; but You have spoken also of Your servant's house for a greatwhile to come. And is this the manner of man, O Lord GOD?No-man could not have been so kind as that! The love of Jesus surpassesthe love of women and the love of God surpasses all the kindness of men.
20. And what can David say more unto You? For You, Lord GOD, know Your servant ' 'What I cannot utter, You can perceive inmy heart, though I cannot express it."
21-25. For Your word's sake, and according to Your own heart, have You done all these great things, to make Your servant knowthem. Therefore You are great, O LORD God: for there is none like You, neither is there any God besides You, according toall that we have heard with our ears. And what one nation in the earth is like Your people, even like Israel, whom God wentto redeem for a people to Himself, and to make Him a name, and to do for You great things and terrible, for Your land, beforeYour people, which You redeem to You from Egypt, from the nations and their gods? For You have confirmed to Yourself Yourpeople Israel to be a people unto You forever: and You, LORD, have become their God. And now, O LORD God, the word that Youhave spoken concerning Your servant, and concerning his house, establish it forever, and do as You have said. That is a veryshort, but exceedingly pithy prayer-"Do as You have said." You do not need any larger promises, Brothers and Sisters, thanthe Lord has already given you-could He give you any larger ones?-
"What more can He say than to you He has 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, "Doas You have said." What strength there is in this plea! Has He said, and shall He not do it? "Will He break His promise, orshall His right hand fail to perform that which has gone forth from His lips? Far be it from us to think so, but let us sayto Him, "Do as You have said." That is the very essence of prayer! Take care not to forget it.
26-29. And'let Your name be magnified forever, saying, The LORD of Hosts is the God over Israel: and let the house of Yourservant David be established before You. For You, O LORD of Hosts, God of Israel, have revealed to Your servant, saying, Iwill build You a house: therefore has Your servant found in his heart to pray this prayer unto You. And now, O lord GOD, Youare that God, and Your words are true, and You have promised this goodness unto Your servant therefore now let it please Youto bless the house of Your servant, that it may continue forever before You. You see how he clings to God's promise-"You havepromised this goodness unto 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 will win the blessing if you can plead, as David did, "You have promised this goodness unto Yourservant."
29. For You, O lord GOD, have spoken it How he dwells on it!
29. And with Your blessing let the house of Your servant be blessed forever Now let us read two of our Lord's parables concerningprayer.
Luke 18:1-8. And He spoke a parable unto them to this end that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; saying, There was in a citya judge who feared not God, neither regarded man: and there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avengeme of my adversary. And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself Though I fear not God, nor regard man;yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual com-
ing she weary me. And thee Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said. And shall not God avenge His own elect, which cry dayand night unto Him, though He bear long with them? I tell You that He will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Sonof Man comes, shall He find faith on the earth? The whole force of this parable goes to show the prevalence of importunity.If You cannot get your desire of God the first time, go again and, if necessary, go again seven times. Yes, if need be, insubmission to His will, go seventy times seven! I am afraid there is no fear of our having to be asked the question, "Willyou, also, weary my God?" Oh, no, we do not pray enough for that, neither are we so importunate as this poor widow was! Letus prove the power of importunate prayer and rest assured that Heaven's gate must open if we do but know how to knock andthat the blessing must be given if we do but continue to ask for it, for praying breath is never spent in vain.
9-11. And He spoke this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: Twomen went up into the temple to pray, the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus withhimself, God I thank You that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. And hedrew up his skirts and got upwind, for fear lest any breath that should blow from the publican should defile his sanctifiedperson!
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 publican, standing afar off Not daring to come near to the inner shrine-
13. Would not lift up so much as his eyes unto Heaven, but smote upon 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 notour Lord's verdict!
14. I tell You, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for everyone that exalts himself shall beabased; and he that humbles himself shall be exalted.