“Prayer”, by Arthur W. Pink (God’s Word, God’s Blessing, Expectancy)

‘What things soever ye desire when ye pray believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them’ (Mark 11:24)

By the words ‘believe that ye receive them’: we understand, expect God to give them to you. But it is at this point that so many of God’s people fail oftenest in their prayer lives. There are three chief things to be attended to in prayer.

First, make sure that you are asking for something that is in accordance with God’s Word: see 1 John 5:14. But right here, the devil will foil you unless you are upon your guard. He will come as an angel of light and preach a sermon to you on God’s holy will. O yes, the devil is quite capable even of that!

It is our privilege and duty to know what God’s will is! ‘Wherefore be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is’ (Eph. 5:17). It is the revealed will of God which is in view in these passages, for with His ‘secret’ will, we have nothing to do; that is none of our business.

God’s revealed will is made known in His Word. Fix this in your mind; never allow Satan inject a thought (Eph. 4:27) to shake you thereon, that everything God has commanded you to do, every precept and exhortation addressed to you, is ‘God’s will’ for you, and is to be turned into prayer for enabling grace. It is God’s will that you should be ‘sanctified’ (1 Thess. 4:2), that you should ‘rejoice’ (Phil. 4:4), that you should ‘make your calling and election sure’ (2 Peter 1:10), that you should ‘grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord’ (2 Peter 3:18).

Second, having made sure that what you are praying for is according to God’s revealed will, then plead His promises, such as Matt. 7:7, Phil. 4:19, etc. Plead them in the name of Christ, asking God to give you the ‘desires of thine heart’ (Psalm 37:4) for Christ’s sake, that He may be honoured in and by a Godly walk from you, and that His people may be helped and encouraged by your example. Those are pleas which God cannot deny.

Third, and this is what we would earnestly and lovingly press upon the Christian reader: EXPECT God to do what you have asked. Unless there is an expectancy, faith is not fully in exercise. It is this expecting from Him which honours and pleases God, and which always draws down from Him answers of peace.

There may be some difficulty, problem, trial, looming ahead of you, which assumes the proportions of a mountain. Never mind that: do not let it depress, discourage, or dismay you. Praise God it stands written in the eternal Word of Truth, ‘Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith and doubt not…ye shall say unto this mountain be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; It shall be done'(Matt. 21:21).

Notice carefully, it is not ‘If thou doubt not and have faith, ‘but if ye have faith’ and then (while you are awaiting God’s answer) ‘doubt not’, but continue the fulfillment of His promise. When you first get down on your knees, beg God in the name of Christ and for His own glory’s sake, to work in you by His Spirit that expectancy of faith which will not take ‘NO’ from Him; which reverently, but confidently says, ‘I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me’ (Gen. 32:26). That is what honours God, that is what pleases Him, that is what obtains answers from Him.

‘A friend at court!’ No doubt that expression is more or less familiar to the older readers, but it has almost dropped out of use in this generation. It denoted that one had a friend possessing influence with another in authority, and using it on my behalf. How unspeakably blessed to know that the Christian has a friend at court, the Court of Heaven; ‘A friend that sticketh closer than a brother.’ He has the ear of God, for on earth He declared ‘Thou hearest me always’ (John 11:42).

Then, make use of Him, and ask Him to present them to His Father and your Father, accompanied by His own all-prevailing merits; and, if they are for God’s glory and thy (real) good, be fully assured that they shall be granted. Thus will Christ be honoured and your faith strengthened.

Source: Grace Online Library

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“Is Anything Too Hard For The Lord?” Sermon from C.H.Spurgeon, 1888 Metropolitan Tabernacle

“Is Anything Too Hard For The Lord?”
Sermon Delivered on Lord’s Day Morning April 22, 1888
Metropolitan Tabernacle, Newington

“Then came the word of the Lord unto Jeremiah, saying, Behold, I am the Lord,
the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?”
Jeremiah 32:26,27.

THIS method of questioning the person to be instructed is known to teachers as the Socratic Method. Socrates was known, not so much to state a fact, as to ask a question and draw out thoughts from those whom he taught. His method had long before been used by a far greater teacher. Putting questions is Jehovah’s frequent method of instruction.

When the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind it was with a series of questions. “Know you the ordinances of heaven? Can you set the dominion thereof in the earth? Can you lift up your voice to the clouds, that abundance of waters may cover you? Can you send lightning, that they may go and say unto you, Here we are?” and so forth.

Questions from the Lord are very often the strongest affirmations. He would have us perceive their absolute certainty. They are put in this particular form because He would have us think over His great thought, and confirm it by our own reflections. The Lord shines upon us in the question, and our answer to it is the reflection of His light. The Infallible One challenges a contradiction or even a doubt. “Is anything too hard for Me?” is the strongest way of saying that nothing can be too hard for Him, for it proclaims defiance to heaven, and earth, and hell, to produce a difficulty which can perplex the Lord.

I invite you, therefore, dear friends, to turn the question over in your minds till the omnipotence of Jehovah shall be your one all-absorbing thought. You cannot think of anything which renders it necessary to put a footnote to the text. Search well, and see if it needs qualification. See whether there is an exception to the rule of absolute omnipotence. Revolve the divine question long and well—“Is anything too hard for Me?” May your thoughts be awake at this time!

May the truth of the text take possession of your minds, and fill them with its fragrance even as the woman’s box of ointment filled the room with its perfume!

I shall ask you first to consider the wonderful question of our text which the Lord put to the prophet, VIEWING IT AS NECESSARY. The utterance of these words was no superfluity; there was need for them to be spoken. Flesh is frail, and mortal minds are forgetful, and Jeremiah, great as he was, was but a man. It was needful to tell the prophet this, though he knew it. He never doubted that the Lord is Almighty, and yet it was needful for Jehovah Himself to speak home this truth to his mind and heart.
It is often necessary for the Lord Himself to drive home a truth into the mind of His most faithful servant. None can teach as the Lord teaches. Truth is never fully known by the sons of Zion until the Lord teaches it to them, hence it is written, “all your children shall be taught of the Lord.” We learn much in many ways, but we learn nothing vitally and practically till the Spirit of God becomes our schoolmaster.

The God of truth must teach us the truth of God or we shall never learn it. Jeremiah knew this truth in his inmost soul; see the seventeenth verse of this chapter, “I prayed unto the Lord, saying, Ah, Lord God! Behold, You have made the heaven and the earth by Your great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for You.”

He expressed the truth admirably, and yet the Lord saw it needful to give him a special divine revelation, to impress it more fully upon his heart. Brethren, it is one thing to know that such a doctrine is true, and quite another thing to know the truth itself. We need to be persuaded of it so as to embrace it. It is a glorious thing to see truth blaze out as if written in letters of fire. We are far too apt to put truth down in our creed, and after that to shut it away from practical everyday use.

We believe it, and we should be indignant if anybody disputed it, and yet we ignore it.

Truth laid upon the shelf is as good as unknown. Doctrines which are disputed often have the most influence upon the community, because they are brought clearly before men’s minds, and being threshed out, they yield seed for the sower and bread for the eater.

We read in one of the Epistles, “I put you in remembrance of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth.” There is a proverb which says that “Truth is mighty, and will prevail.” That is true, as far as it goes, but the truth may be formally admitted and then it may be laid aside, and so may never prevail. It is ill to treat a truth like some great Egyptian king, who is swathed in fine linen, embalmed with precious spices, and pompously placed in the tomb with other honorable mummies.

The Lord would not have the truth of His own omnipotence thus dealt with, and therefore He comes forth from His secret place, and speaks personally to His servant, saying, “Is anything too hard for Me?” May the Lord do the same with us in reference to the precious truths of His gospel! May the Holy Spirit Himself take of the things of Christ, and show them to us; then shall we see them in their own light, and know them as divine realities!

But I go a step further, and say, that it is necessary for us to be thus specially instructed, even though we know a truth well enough to plead it in prayer, as Jeremiah did when he cried, “There is nothing too hard for You.” That man is no mean scholar in the classes of Christ who has learned to handle Scriptural truths when pleading with the Lord. Oh, that we used more argument in prayer! Prayers are weak when they lack pleadings.

“Bring forth your strong reasons, says the Lord.” The sinews of prayer are the holy arguments which we urge with the Lord, such as His own promises and our great needs, His own glory, His covenant, the malice of the enemy, and so forth.

We know great truths well when we see their bearing towards God in supplication, and yet, though we may be able to plead it in supplication, we may not even then know the truth to the full. O men of God, you that are fathers in Israel, may the Holy Spirit still teach you, till you know all the power and fullness of His truth. In lowliness of spirit I doubt not that you still cry—

“I find myself a learner yet, Unstable, weak, and apt to slide.” May the Comforter continually bring to your remembrance the things which Jesus has told you, till you know the heart and soul of them. You gracious mothers in Israel, may God reveal Himself to you more and more, and even those truths which you already plead in your closet may He yet cause you to realize more vividly still. May you weave songs as well as prayers out of the truth of God. This truth of His omnipotence, may He come and speak to our hearts as He did to the heart of Jeremiah, “Behold, I am Jehovah, the God of all flesh: is there anything too hard for Me?”