March 15: Bad prayers of the Bible – Saul’s rash prayer

We’ve seen some of the good prayers of the Bible, but for the next few days we’ll look at some of the bad prayers of the Bible:

And Saul asked counsel of God, Shall I go down after the Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into the hand of Israel? But he answered him not that day. And Saul said, Draw ye near hither, all the chief of the people: and know and see wherein this sin hath been this day. For, as the LORD liveth, which saveth Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die….

1 Samuel 14:37-39

In the previous chapter Samuel had informed Saul that God was taking away the kingdom from him. In this chapter God is silent to Saul. Now Saul is invoking the name of the LORD as he brings down curses on his people, even his own son.

Sometimes we may be weary and frustrated and even angry. David was attacked by his enemies, but he asked God to judge his enemies.

Pour out thine indignation upon them, and let thy wrathful anger take hold of them.

Psalm 69:24

But here Saul is frustrated with the people of God. It’s easy to be frustrated dealing with fellow believers (we’re still in the sanctification process after all). But first, refrain from making a vow (Ecclesiastes 5:4-6), and second, remember God wants us to seek the good of His people.

I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessingand cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

Deuteronomy 30:19

We may be frustrated with other believers. God may have to punish them, but may we not rejoice in their suffering, but rather seek their blessing!

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.

James 3:10

March 14: Moody – Forgiveness

D.L. Moody

This reading is excerpted from D.L. Moody’s classic book, Prevailing Prayer.

Now let us come to the part I want to dwell upon: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” This is the only part of the prayer that Christ explained.

“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Notice that when you go into the door of God’s kingdom, you go in through the door of forgiveness. I never knew of a man getting a blessing in his own soul, if he was not willing to forgive others, If we are unwilling to forgive others, God cannot forgive us, I do not know how language could be more plain than it is in these words of our Lord. I firmly believe a great many prayers are not answered because we are not willing to forgive some one. Let your mind go back over the past, and through the circle of your acquaintance; are there any against whom you are cherishing hard feelings? Is there any root of bitterness springing up against some one who has perhaps injured you? It may be that for months or years you have been nursing this unforgiving spirit;how can you ask God to forgive you? If I am not willing to forgive those who may have committed some single offence against me, what a mean, contemptible thing it would be for me to ask God to forgive the ten thousand sins of which I have been guilty!

But Christ goes still further. He says: “If thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath aught against thee; leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.” It may be that you are saying: “I do not know that I have anything against any one.” Has any one anything against you? Is there some one who thinks you have done them wrong? Perhaps you have not; but it may be they think you have. I will tell you what I would do before I go to sleep to-night; I would go and see them, and have the question settled. You will find that you will be greatly blessed in the very act.

Supposing you are in the right and they are in the wrong; you may win your brother or sister. May God root out of all our hearts this unforgiving spirit.

A gentleman came to me some time ago, and wanted me to talk to his wife about her soul . That woman seemed as anxious as any person I ever met, and I thought it would not take long to lead her into the light; but it seemed that the longer I talked with her, the more her darkness increased . I went to see her again the next day, and found her in still greater darkness of Boul . I thought there must be something in the way that I had not discovered, and I asked her to repeat with me this disciples’ prayer. I thought if she could say this prayer from the heart, the Lord would meet her in peace. I began to repeat it sentence after sentence, and she repeated it after me until I came to this petition: “Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive them that trespass against us.” There she stopped . I repeated it the second time, and waited for her to say it after me; she said she could not do it. “What is the trouble?” She replied, “There is one woman I never will forgive.” “Oh,” I said, “I have got at your difficulty; it is no use my going on to pray, for your prayers will not go higher than my head. God says He will not forgive you unless you forgive others. If you do not forgive this woman, God will never forgive you. That is the decree of heaven.” She said, “Do you mean to say that I cannot be forgiven until I have forgiven her?” “No, I do not say it; the Lord says it, and that is far better authority.” Said she, “Then I will never be forgiven.” I left the house without having made any impression on her. A few years after, I heard that this woman was in an asylum for the insane. I believe this spirit of unforgiveness drove her mad.

If there is some one who has aught against you, go at once, and be reconciled. If you have aught against any one, write to them a letter, telling them that you forgive them, and so have this thing off your conscience. I remember being in the inquiry-room some years ago; I was in one corner of the room, talking to a young lady. There seemed to be something in the way, but I could not find out what it was. At last I said, “Is there not some one you do not forgive?” She looked up at me, and said, “What made you ask that? Has anyone told you about me?” “No,” I said; “but I thought perhaps that might be the case, as you have not received forgiveness yourself.” “Well,” she said, pointing to another corner of the room, where there was a young lady sitting, “I have had trouble with that young lady; we have not spoken to each other for along time.” “Oh,” I said, “it is all plain to me now; you cannot be forgiven until you are willing to forgive her.” It was a great struggle. But then you know, the greater the cross the greater the blessing. It is human to err, but it is Christ-like to forgive and be forgiven. At last this young lady said: ‘I will go and forgive her.” Strange to say, the same conflict was going on in the mind of the lady in the other part of the room. They both came to their right mind about the same time. They met each other in the middle of the floor. The one tried to say that she forgave the other, but they could not finish; so they rushed into each other’s arms. Then the four of us— the two seekers and the two workers—got down on our knees together, and we had a grand meeting. These two went away rejoicing.

March 13: Moody – Thanksgiving

D.L. Moody

This reading is excerpted from D.L. Moody’s classic book, Prevailing Prayer.

There is a great deal more said in the Bible about praise than prayer; yet how few praise-meetings there are!

David, in his Psalms, always mixes praise with prayer. Solomon prevailed much with God in prayer at the dedication of the temple; but it was the voice of praise which brought down the glory that filled the house; for we read: “And it came to pass, when the priests were come out of the holy place (for all the priests that were present were sanctified, and did not then wait by course; also the Levites, which were the singers, all of them of Asaph, of Heman, of Jeduthun, with their sons and their brethren, being arrayed in white linen, having cymbals, and psalteries, and harps, stood at the east end of the altar, and with them a hundred and twenty priests, sounding with trumpets); it came even to pass, as the trumpeters and singers were as one, to make one sound to be heard in praising and thanking the Lord; and when they lifted up their voice with the trumpets, and cymbals, and instruments of music, and praised the Lord, saying, ‘For He is good; for His mercy endureth forever;’ that then the house was filled with a cloud, even the house of the Lord; so that the priests could not stand to minister by reason of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord had filled the house of God.”

We read, too, of Jehosaphat, that he gained the victory over the hosts of Ammon and Moab through praise, which was excited by faith and thankfulness to God.

“And they rose early in the morning, and went forth into the wilderness of Tekoa; and as they went forth, Jehoshaphat stood and said, ‘Hear me, O Judah, and ye inhabitants of Jerusalem; believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper;’ and when he had consulted with the people, he appointed singers unto the Lord, and that should praise the beauty of holiness, as they went out before the army, and to say, Praise the Lord; for His mercy endureth for ever,’ And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushments against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, which which were come against Judah; and they were smitten.”

It is said that in a time of great despondency among the first settlers in New England, it was proposed in one of their public assemblies to proclaim a fast. An old farmer arose; spoke of their provoking heaven with their complaints, reviewed their measures, showed that they had much to be thankful for, and moved that instead of appointing a day of fasting, they should appoint a day of thanksgiving. This was done; and the custom has been continued ever since.

However great our difficulties, or deep even our sorrows, there is room for thankfulness. Thomas Adams has said: “Lay up in the ark of thy memory not only the pot of manna, the bread of life; but even Aaron’s rod, the very scourge of correction, wherewith thou hast been bettered. Blessed be the Lord, not only giving, but taking away, saith Job. God who sees there is no walking upon roses to heaven, puts His children into the way of discipline; and by the fire of correction eats out the rust of corruption. God sends trouble, then bids us call upon Him; promiseth our deliverance; and lastly, the all He requires of us is to glorify Him. ‘Call upon Me in the day of trouble; I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify Me.”

March 12: Moody – Restitution

D.L. Moody

This reading is excerpted from D.L. Moody’s classic book, Prevailing Prayer.

A third element of successful prayer is RESTITUTION. If I have at any time taken what does not belong to me, and am not willing to make restitution, my prayers will not go very far toward heaven. It is a singular thing, but I have never touched on this subject in my addresses, without hearing of immediate results. A man once told me that I would not need to dwell on this point at a meeting I was about to address, as probably there would be no one present that would need to make restitution. But I think if the Spirit of God searches our hearts, we shall most of us find a good many things have to be done that we never thought of before.

After Zaccheus met with Christ, things looked altogether different. I venture to say that the idea of making restitution never entered into his mind before. He thought, probably, that morning that he was a perfectly honest man. But when the Lord came and spoke to him, he saw himself in an altogether different light. Notice how short his speech was. The only thing put on record that he said was this: “Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold.” A short speech; but how the words have come ringing down through the ages!

By making that remark he confessed his sin—that he had been dishonest. Besides that, he showed that he knew the requirements of the law of Moses. If a man / had taken what did net belong to him, he was not only I to return it, but to multiply it by four. I think that men in this dispensation ought to be fully as honest as men under the Law. I am getting so tired and sick of your mere sentimentalism, that does not straighten out a man’s life. We may sing our hymns and psalms, and offer prayers, but they will be an abomination to God, unless we are willing to be thoroughly straightforward in our daily life. Nothing will give Christianity such a hold upon the world as to have God’s believing people begin to act in this way. Zaccheus had probably more influence in Jericho after he made restitution than any other man in it.

Finney, in his lectures to professing Christians, says: “One reason for the requirement, ‘Be not conformed to this world,’ is the immense, salutary, and instantaneous influence it would have, if everybody would do business on the principles of the Gospel. Turn the tables over, and let Christians do business one year on Gospel principles. It would shake the world! It would ring louder than thunder. Let the ungodly see professing Christians considering the good of the person they are trading with—seeking not their own wealth, but every man another’s wealth—living above the world—setting no value on the world any further than it would be the means of glorifying God; what do you think would be the effect? It would cover the world with confusion of face, and overwhelm them with conviction of sin.”

Finney makes one grand mark of genuine repentance to be restitution. “The thief has not repented who keeps the money he stole. He may have conviction, but no repentance. If he had repentance, he would go and give back the money. If you have cheated any one, and do not restore what you have taken unjustly; or if you have injured any one, and do not set about to undo the wrong you have done, as far as in you lies, you have not truly repented.”

March 11: Moody – Confession

D.L. Moody

This reading is excerpted from D.L. Moody’s classic book, Prevailing Prayer.

Another element in true prayer is Confession. I do not want Christian friends to think that I am talking to the unsaved. I think we, as Christians, have a good many sins to confess.

If you go back to the Scripture records, you will find that the men who lived nearest to God, and had most power with Him, were those who confessed their sins and failures. Daniel, as we have seen, confessed his sins and those of his people. Yet there is nothing recorded against Daniel. He was one of the best men then on the face of the earth, yet was his confession of sin one of the deepest and most humble on record. Brooks, referring to Daniel’s confession, says: “In these words you have seven circumstances that Daniel uses in confessing of his and the people’s sins; and all to heighten and aggravate them.

  • First, ‘We have sinned;’
  • secondly, ‘We have committed iniquity;’
  • thirdly, ‘We have done wickedly;’
  • fourthly, ‘We have rebelled against thee;’
  • fiftly, ‘We have departed from Thy precepts;’
  • sixthly, ‘We have not hearkened unto Thy servants;’
  • seventhly, ‘Nor our princes, nor all the people of the land.’

These seven aggravations which Daniel reckons up in his confession are worthy our most serious consideration.”

Job was no doubt a holy man, a mighty prince, yet he had to fall in the dust and confess his sins. So you will find it all through the Scriptures. When Isaiah saw the purity and holiness of God, he beheld himself in his true light, and he exclaimed, “Woe is me, for I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips!

I firmly believe that the Church of God will have to confess her own sins, before there can be any great work of grace. There must be a deeper work among God’s believing people. I sometimes think it is about time to give up preaching to the ungodly, and preach to those who profess to be Christians. If we had a higher standard of life in the Church of God, there would be thousands more flocking into the Kingdom. So it was in the past; when God’s believing children turned away from their sins and their idols, the fear of God fell upon the people round about. Take up the history of Israel, and you will find that when they put away their strange gods, God visited the nation, and there came a mighty work of grace.

What we want in these days is a true and deep revival in the Church of God. I have little sympathy with the idea that God is going to reach the masses by a cold and formal church. The judgment of God must begin with us. You notice that when Daniel got that wonderful answer to prayer recorded in the ninth chapter, he was confessing his sin. That is one of the best chapters on prayer in the whole Bible.

We read: “While I was speaking, and praying, and confessing my sin, and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, while I was speaking in my prayer, even the man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding.”

So also when Job was confessing his sin, God turned his captivity and heard his prayer. God will hear our prayer and turn our captivity when we take our true place before Him, and confess and forsake our transgressions. It was when Isaiah cried out before the Lord, “I am undone,” that the blessing came; the live coal was taken from the altar and put upon his lips; and he went out to write one of the most wonderful books the world has ever seen. What a blessing it has been to the church!

March 10: Moody – Adoration

D.L. Moody

This reading is excerpted from D.L. Moody’s classic book, Prevailing Prayer.

Let me refer you to a passage in the prophecies of Daniel. He was one of the men who knew how to pray; his prayer brought the blessing of heaven upon himself and upon his people. He says: “I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes; and I prayed unto the Lord my God, and made my confession, and said, O Lord, the great and dreadful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to them that love Him, and to them that keep His commandments!”

The thought I want to call special attention to is conveyed in the words, “O Lord, the great and dreadful God!” Daniel took his right place before God—in the dust; he put God in His right place. It was when Abraham was on his face, prostrate before God, that God spoke to him. Holiness belongs to God; sinfulness belongs to us.

Brooks, that grand old Puritan writer, says: “A person of real holiness is much affected and taken up in the admiration of the holiness of God. Unholy persons may be somewhat affected and taken with the other excellences of God; it is only holy souls that are taken and affected with His holiness. The more holy any are, the more deeply are they affected by this. To the holy angels, the holiness of God is the sparkling diamond in the ring of glory. But unholy persons are affected and taken with anything rather than with this. Nothing strikes the sinner into such a damp as a discourse on the holiness of God; it is as the handwriting on the wall; nothing makes the head and heart of a sinner to ache like a sermon upon the Holy One; nothing galls and gripes, nothing stings and terrifies unsanctified ones, like a lively setting forth of the holiness of God. But to holy souls there are no discourses that do more suit and satisfy them, that do more delight and content them, that do more please and profit them, than those that do most fully and powerfully discover God to be glorious in holiness.” So, in coming before God, we must adore and reverence His name.

The same thing is brought out in Isaiah: “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim; each one had six wings; with twain he covered his face, and with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one cried unto another, and said: Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.”

When we see the holiness of God, we shall adore and magnify Him. Moses had to learn the same lesson. God told him to take his shoes from off his feet, for the place whereon he stood was holy ground. When we hear men trying to make out that they are holy, and speaking about their holiness, they make light of the holiness of God. It is His holiness that we need to think and speak about; when we do that, we shall be prostrate in the dust . You remember, also, how it was with Peter. When Christ made Himself known to him, he said, “Depart from me, for I am a sinful man,

March 9: Moody – Prayers of the Bible

D.L. Moody

This reading is excerpted from D.L. Moody’s classic book, Prevailing Prayer.

Those who have left the deepest impression on this sin-cursed earth have been men and women of prayer. You will find that prayer has been the mighty power that has moved not only God, but man.

Abraham was a man of prayer, and angels came down from heaven to converse with him. Jacob’s prayer was answered in the wonderful interview at Peniel, that resulted in his having such a mighty blessing, and in softening the heart of his brother Esau; the child Samuel was given in answer to Hannah’s prayer; Elijah’s prayer closed up the heavens for three years and six months, and he prayed again and the heavens gave rain.

The Apostle James tells us that the prophet Elijah was a man “subject to like passions as we are.” I am thankful that those men and women who were so mighty in prayer were just like ourselves. We are apt to think that those prophets and mighty men and women of old time were different from what we are. To be sure they lived in a much darker age, but they were of like passions with ourselves.

We read that on another occasion Elijah brought down fire on Mount Oarmel. The prophets of Baal cried long and loud, but no answer came. The God of Elijah heard and answered his prayer. Let us remember that the God of Elijah still lives. The prophet was translated and went up to heaven, but his God still lives, and we have the same access to Him that Elijah had. We have the same warrant to go to God and ask the fire from heaven to come down and consume our lusts and passions—to burn up our dross, and let Christ shine through us.

Elisha prayed, and life came back to a dead child. Many of our children are dead in trespasses and sins. Let us do as Elisha did; let us entreat God to raise them up in answer to our prayers.

Manasseh, the king, was a wicked man, and had done everything he could against the God of his father; yet in Babylon, when he cried to God, his cry was heard, and he was taken out of prison and put on the throne at Jerusalem. Surely if God gave heed to the prayer of wicked Manasseh, He will hear ours in the time of our distress. Is not this a time of distress with a great number of our fellow-men? Are there not many among us whose hearts are burdened? As we go to the throne of grace, let us remember that GOD ANSWERS PRAYER.

March 8: Moody – Prevailing Prayer

D.L. Moody

This reading is excerpted from D.L. Moody’s classic book, Prevailing Prayer.

The two first and essential means of grace are the Word of God and Prayer. By these comes conversion; for we are born again by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever; and whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

By these also we grow; for we are exhorted to desire the sincere milk of the Word that we may grow thereby, and we cannot grow in grace and in the knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ except we also speak to Him in Prayer.

It is by the Word that the Father sanctifies us; but we are also bidden to watch and pray, lest we enter into temptation.

These two means of grace must be used in their right proportion. If we read the Word and do not pray, we may become puffed up with knowledge, without the love that buildeth up. If we pray without reading the Word, we shall be ignorant of the mind and will of God, and become mystical and fanatical, and liable to be blown about by every wind of doctrine….

Prayer was appointed to convey 
The blessings God designs to give; 
Long as they live should Christians pray, 
For only while they pray they live. 

And shall we in dead silence lie,
When Christ stands waiting for our prayer?
My soul, thou hast a Friend on high;
Arise and try thy interest there.

If pain afflict, or wrongs oppress;
If cares distract, or fears dismay;
If guilt deject, if sin distress;
The remedy’s before thee—Pray!

Depend on Christ, thou canst not fail;
Make all thy wants and wishes known.
Fear not; His merits must prevail;
Ask what thou wilt; it shall be done!

Joseph Hart


March 7: Prayer Warriors – George Muller

How do you know if God has answered your prayers? Well, obviously, if what I prayed for happened. So, how many of your prayers has God answered last year? If you’re like me – we pray for things as we think of them, and not in a planned serious way. It seems as if we put more planning into our grocery list than into our prayer list. But if you start writing down your prayer requests, you can record your answers to prayer!

George Muller kept detailed prayer journals, and recorded 50,000 answers to prayer in his journals!

Once, while crossing the Atlantic on the SS Sardinian in August 1877, his ship ran into thick fog. He explained to the captain that he needed to be in Quebec by the following afternoon, but Captain Joseph E. Dutton (later known as “Holy Joe”) said that he was slowing the ship down for safety and Müller’s appointment would have to be missed. Müller asked to use the chartroom to pray for the lifting of the fog. The captain followed him down, claiming it would be a waste of time. After Müller prayed a very simple prayer, the captain started to pray, but Müller stopped him; partly because of the captain’s unbelief, but mainly because he believed the prayer had already been answered. Müller said, “Captain, I have known my Lord for more than fifty years and there is not one instance that I have failed to have an audience with the King. Get up, Captain, for you will find that the fog has gone.” When the two men went back to the bridge, they found the fog had lifted, and Müller was able to keep his appointment. The captain became a Christian shortly afterwards.[43]

Steer, Roger (1997). George Müller: Delighted in God. Tain, Rosshire: Christian Focus. ISBN 978-1-85792-340-7.

What was the secret to his prayer life?

It has pleased the Lord to teach me a truth, the benefit of which I have not lost, for more than fourteen years. The point is this: I saw more clearly than ever that the first great and primary business to which I ought to attend every day was, to have my soul happy in the Lord.

https://library.timelesstruths.org/texts/Renewed_Day_by_Day/Renewed_Day_by_Day/

March 6: Prayer Warriors – John Wesley

Have you heard of “The Powerhouse of Methodism”? It was a small little “closet.” John Wesley went to bed at 9:00 PM, and started his day in his “closet” at 4:00 AM, in Bible Study and prayer. Do you have a place that you spend a daily time with God?

John Wesley’s Prayer Room, Photo by Graham Portlock

God’s command to “pray without ceasing” is founded on the necessity we have of his grace to preserve the life of God in the soul, which can no more subsist one moment without it, than the body can without air.

John Wesley

But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:6