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by Mr. John Samuel Cagan

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, September 3, 2016

“Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments” (Job 23:3-4).

We are discussing how to have ordered and argued prayers. In order to do that, it is important that you have the stories and the verses of the Bible in your mind. Argument by analogy is a powerful way to make a strong point. An analogy is a comparison between two things through structural similarities. When you pray for something big and miraculous, reference something that God did in the Bible that was big and miraculous. If you are praying for something that draws less attention, reference something that highlights how God is detail oriented and specific. All of this is only meaningful because God answers prayer. And there are many instances in the Bible where God answered ordered, reasoned, and argumentative prayer. There are many examples in the Bible of people who reasoned with God.

I. First, God’s response to ordered prayer.

Moses prayed for Israel in the wilderness. The people had turned away from God and worshipped a golden calf. God threatened to destroy them. Moses prayed for the people. The Bible says,

“Moses besought the Lord his God, and said, Lord, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people” (Exodus 32:11-12).

Moses was saying to God, “Lord, what will people say about you? What will they think of your great name if you destroy this people?” Then Moses reminded God of His promise:

“Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou swarest by thine own self, and saidst unto them, I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have spoken of will I give unto your seed, and they shall inherit it for ever” (Exodus 32:13).

Moses reminded God of His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (Israel), that He would multiply their offspring and give them the land of Canaan. “If you destroy the people now, your promise will not be fulfilled.” God answered Moses’ prayer. The Bible says, “And the Lord repented of [changed His mind about] the evil which he thought to do unto his people” (Exodus 32:14). God changed His mind. He did not destroy the people. God answered Moses’ prayer.

An argument can include referencing the sorrows of God’s people. We are all human. When terrible things happen, we experience those things through pain and suffering. Even Jesus wept, when Lazarus died. If a loved one came to you, and recounted the pain they were in, and used it as an appeal for help, this would be a powerful means of persuasion. God loves us more then we could ever love another person. Bring up the sorrows of your heart, of your friend’s heart, and of God’s people in your arguments.

After Jerusalem was destroyed Jeremiah prayed, “Remember, O Lord, what is come upon us: consider, and behold our reproach” (Lamentations 5:1) After Jerusalem was destroyed, the Psalmist said,

“O God, the heathen are come into thine inheritance; thy holy temple have they defiled; they have laid Jerusalem on heaps. The dead bodies of thy servants have they given to be meat unto the fowls of the heaven, the flesh of thy saints unto the beasts of the earth. Their blood have they shed like water round about Jerusalem; and there was none to bury them. We are become a reproach to our neighbours, a scorn and derision to them that are round about us” (Psalm 79:1-4).

He told God of the sufferings of His Jewish people. Then he prayed to God to defend His own reputation, His own name. He said to God, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of thy name: and deliver us, and purge away our sins, for thy name's sake” (Psalm 79:9). Then he prayed, “Wherefore [why] should the heathen say, Where is their God?” (Psalm 79:10). He prayed for God to defend His own honor and name among the lost people.

Before I stand up to pray, I try to think of what God has done in the Bible that can apply to our present situation. Referencing the Bible is the introduction of evidence before God. It is important that you read your Bible and pay attention as you are reading it. Often, even if you cannot remember a verse word for word, you will remember an idea that you got out of the Bible, and you can apply that idea to your argument. That may take some creativity and thinking, but that is what is often required to argue with a person, especially God. He is the same God now as He was then. David prayed, “Thou hast been my help; leave me not, neither forsake me, O God of my salvation” (Psalm 27:9).

Moses prayed, “Thou hast brought [us] forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand” (Exodus 32:11). He was saying, “O God, Thou brought us out of the land of Egypt. Thou didst not bring us out just to leave us to die in the wilderness!” What did God do for others? In Bible times? In history? In our church? For you? Think of how these arguments are an appeal to what God has done in the past.

O God, Thou didst send revival in the 18th century to Wesley and Whitefield.
Thou didst send Thy Spirit to the Isle of Lewis, and to China. Thou art able to send thy Spirit here as well!
Thou hast saved my soul. Thou hast saved the souls of others here. Save this person also!
Thou hast saved our church through a terrible split. Thou didst not bring us through that only to die. Therefore, Lord, cause our church to live!
Thou hast done great things for us such as (examples). Thou hast answered my prayers. Thou hast answered the prayers of others (name your prayers or those of other people). So answer this prayer!

Always speak of the sufferings, the death, the Blood, the intercessory prayer of Christ Jesus. Christ invited us to pray in His name. Jesus is our righteousness. He is the only way to God the Father. Jesus said, “No man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (John 14:6). Jesus said to the Disciples, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). You have no righteousness of your own. In yourself you are only a sinner and you will never be anything else. But if you have trusted Christ, God looks at you with your sins pardoned, washed away by the Blood of Jesus. And you receive the righteousness of Christ. So you can pray to God in Jesus’ name and God will hear you as though you were not a sinner – in fact, as though you were Jesus Himself. The Bible says,

“Seeing then that we have a great high priest...Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession... Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14, 16).

The Bible says, “Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Hebrews 10:19). We have no right in ourselves to stand before God, but in Christ and by His Blood we can dare to enter into directly into His presence.

Christ Himself is praying for us. The Bible says, “He ever liveth to make intercession [to pray] for [us]” (Hebrews 7:25).

Remember that God is a Person, not a machine or a force. God answers prayer, though you must be persistent and keep on asking – sometimes for many years. Dr. Hymers prayed for his mother for many years before she was saved. Marie Monson, the missionary to China, prayed for revival for more than twenty years before it came. Many times people have prayed for thirty or forty years before revival came.

In teaching His Disciples how to pray, Jesus gave the Parable of the Importunate Friend. He said, “Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity [persistence, not giving up] he will rise and give him as many as he needeth” (Luke 11:8). You must keep praying until the answer comes.

Jesus said, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you” (Matthew 7:7). The Greek means “keep on asking,” “keep on seeking,” “keep on knocking.” It may take time before you get the answer. Christ said, “Shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them?” (Luke 18:7). Why does it sometimes take a long time before the answer comes? Because God is a Person, not a force. If God were a machine or a force, you could pray only once and make the answer come. But God is a Person. Sometimes God waits a long time before giving the answer.

Because God is a Person, not a force, sometimes the answer is “no.” Prayer is not magic. It is not manipulating God. Prayer does not make God do things. Prayer asks God to do things. God is not a force. He is a Person. Because He is a loving and caring God, He answers prayer; not automatically as a force, but as a Person responding to another person.

You will not always get what you pray for. God is a Person. He may say “no.” As a young girl, the missionary Amy Carmichael asked God to change the color of her eyes. It didn’t happen, and she wondered why until God told her that “no” was an answer just as much as “yes.”

II. Second, ordered prayer claims God’s promises.

God is true. God is faithful. God keeps His promises. All of the Bible is true. Anything God says in the Bible can be claimed as truth in prayer. Jesus said, “Thy word is truth” (John 17:17). He said, “The scripture cannot be broken” (John 10:35).

Claim God’s words this way:

“Thou saidst” (Genesis 32:12).

“Do as thou hast said” (II Samuel 7:25).

Dr. Hymers’ favorite Psalm is Psalm 27. His father left when he was two years old. When he was twelve he could not live with his mother, and for years he had to live with relatives who didn’t care about him. He took comfort from Psalm 27:10, “When my father and my mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.”

Jesus said, “What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?” (Matthew 7:9-11). My father, Dr. Cagan, has claimed these verses many times. He said, “God, if my son asked me for a fish I wouldn’t give him a snake. If he asked me for bread I wouldn’t give him a rock. And God, you won’t treat me that way either. God, I pray, give me what I need.” And God did.

My father claimed God’s Word to ask for good things – what he needed. You can claim God’s Word to ask for what you need. And you can claim God’s Word to ask for His help and presence – for God to send the Holy Spirit. Christ said, “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:13).

Christ promised to answer prayer made through Him, in His name. Jesus said, “If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it” (John 14:14). Claim that promise when you pray.

Jesus promised especially to hear prayer made by groups of people, in church prayer meetings or in small groups who meet for prayer. Christ said, “If two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven “ (Matthew 18:19). Again, Jesus said, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20). Claim that promise when you pray.

God promised to meet our needs. The Bible says, “My God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19). This doesn’t mean God will make you rich if you ask for money. It means that God shall supply all your need. And He will! Claim that promise in God’s Word when you pray!

God promised to give you strength to do what you have to do. The Bible says, “They that wait upon the Lord [‘wait upon the Lord’ means to pray!] shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint” (Isaiah 40:31). Claim that promise when you pray!

God promised to hear you if you call upon Him when you are in trouble. God said, “Call upon me in the day of trouble: I will deliver thee, and thou shalt glorify me” (Psalm 50:15). Claim that promise. Tell God what He said in His Word. Then call upon Him. “God, I’m in trouble. Please help me.”

God promised to hear you even if you pray for things – such as revival – that you have never seen. God said, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not” (Jeremiah 33:3). Claim that promise when you pray for revival.

Do not be afraid to pray for things that seem impossible. Christ said, “With God all things are possible” (Mark 10:27). Jeremiah said to God, “There is nothing too hard for thee” (Jeremiah 32:17).

You can pray for things that you don’t believe will happen, or can happen. A man told Christ how his son was troubled by a demon. Christ said to him, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23). The man said, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). Christ delivered the boy from the evil spirit even though his father didn’t believe it would happen. God encourages you to pray even if your faith is weak, even if you don’t believe the answer will come.

Dr. Hymers preached a sermon called “Unbelief and Revival – a New Insight.” He showed how you can pray for things, such as the miracle of revival, even though you have never seen it. God said in the Bible, “I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring” (Isaiah 44:3). A person on the Isle of Lewis claimed that promise in prayer. And God sent a great revival there.

There are many, many promises in the Bible. God will honor His Word. Claim His Word in prayer. Claim His promises! God will hear your ordered arguments of prayer. Amen.



by Mr. John Samuel Cagan

“Oh that I knew where I might find him! that I might come even to his seat! I would order my cause before him, and fill my mouth with arguments” (Job 23:3-4).

I.    First, God’s response to ordered prayer, Exodus 32:11-12, 13, 14;
Lamentations 5:1; Psalm 79:1-4, 9, 10; Psalm 27:9; John 14:6, 14;
Hebrews 4:14, 16; 10:19; 7:25; Luke 11:8; Matthew 7:7; Luke 18:7.

II.   Second, ordered prayer claims God’s promises, John 17:17;
John 10:35; Genesis 32:12; II Samuel 7:25; Psalm 27:10;
Matthew 7:9-11; Luke 11:13; John 14:14; Matthew 18:19, 20;
Philippians 4:19; Isaiah 40:31; Psalm 50:15; Jeremiah 33:3;
Mark 10:27; Jeremiah 32:17; Mark 9:23, 24; Isaiah 44:3.