Biblical Prayer, Two Perspectives

March 11, 2010

Christian Life

[I thought it would be interesting to hear different/similar perspectives about prayer; essentially going before God.  D.A. Carson is a man whom I respect massively when it comes to discerning the Word of God.  And Jonathan Edwards,…well what do you need to say about him; one of the premier Pastor/Theologians of any era.  Question: Is there an example in the Gospels, during Jesus’s ministry on earth, where someone cries out to Him for forgiveness of sin? – DB]

Don Carson – What Is Biblical Prayer And Why Should I Pray If God Know’s Everything?

II. To show that the Most High is eminently a God that hears prayer. This appears in several things.  By Jonathan Edwards

1. In his giving such free access to him by prayer. God in his word manifests himself ready at all times to allow us this privilege. He sits on a throne of grace; and there is no veil to hide this throne, and keep us from it. The veil is rent from the top to the bottom; the way is open at all times, and we may go to God as often as we please. Although God be infinitely above us, yet we may come with boldness: Heb. iv. 14, 16. ”Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” How wonderful is it that such worms as we should be allowed to come boldly at all times to so great a God!?Thus God indulges all kinds of persons, of all nations, 1 Cor. i 2, 3. Unto all that in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours; grace he unto you,” &c. Yea, God allows the most vile and unworthy; the greatest sinners are allowed to come through Christ. And he not only allows, but encourages, and frequently invites them; yea, manifests himself as delighting in being sought to by prayer: Prov. xv. 8. “The prayer of the upright is his delight;” and in Cant. ii. 14. we have Christ saying to the spouse, “O my dove, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice. 106 ” The voice of the saints in prayer is sweet unto Christ; he delights to hear it. He allows them to be earnest and importunate; yea, to the degree as to take no denial, and as it were to give him no rest, and even encouraging them so to do: Isa. lxii. 6, 7. “Ye that make mention of the Lord, keep not silence, and give him no rest.” Thus Christ encourages us, in the parable of the importunate widow and the unjust judge, Luke xviii. So, in the parable of the man who went to his friend at midnight, Luke xi. 5., &c.

Thus God allowed Jacob to wrestle with him, yea, to be resolute in it; “I will not let thee go, except thou bless me. 107 ” It is noticed with approbation, when men are violent for the kingdom of heaven, and take it by force. Thus Christ suffered the blind man to be most importunate and unceasing in his cries to him, Luke xviii. 38, 39. He continued crying, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me.” Others who were present rebuked him, that he should hold his peace, looking upon it as too great a boldness, and an indecent behaviour towards Christ, thus to cry after him as he passed by. But Christ did not rebuke him, but stood, and commanded him to be brought unto him, saying, “What wilt thou that I should do to thee? 108 ” And when the blind man had told him, Christ graciously granted his request.?The freedom of access that God gives, appears also in allowing us to come to him by prayer for every thing we need, both temporal and spiritual; whatever evil we need to be delivered from, or good we would obtain: Phil. iv. 6. “Be careful for nothing, but in every thing by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.”

2. That God is eminently of this character, appears in his hearing prayer so readily. He often manifests his readiness to hear prayer, by giving an answer so speedily, sometimes while they are yet speaking, and sometimes before they pray, when they only have a design of praying. So ready is God to hear prayer, that he takes notice of the first purpose of praying, and sometimes bestows mercy thereupon: Isa. lxv. 24. “And it shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are yet speaking, I will hear.” We read, that when Daniel was making humble and earnest supplication, God sent an angel to comfort him, and to assure him of an answer, Dan. ix. 20-24. When God defers for the present to answer the prayer of faith, it is not from any backwardness to answer, but for the good of his people sometimes, that they mad be better prepared for the mercy before they receive it, or because another time would be the best and fittest on some other account: and even then, when God seems to delay an answer, the answer is indeed hastened, as in Luke xviii. 7, 8. “And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? I tell you, that he will avenge them speedily.” Sometimes, when the blessing seems to tarry, God is even then at work to bring it about in the best time and the best manner: Hab. ii. 3. “Though it tarry, wait for it; it will come, it will not tarry.”

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