Principles of Prayer
by Francis Foulkes ©


6. God's word and promises

"Ask, and it will be given you".
Thy promise is my only plea;
With this I venture nigh;
Thou callest burdened souls to Thee,
And such, O Lord, am I.
(John Newton)

The Bible is a book full of the promises of God, specific promises, as those given to Abraham, of what God purposed to do. Those who were aware of those promises could therefore plead them in coming before him. A vivid and significant example is furnished by the promises made to David when he had thought to build a temple for the Lord. The promises related to his "house" and to what would happen beyond his time. David responded in what might be called a three-step argument, "O Lord God, you are God", "your words are true", and "you have promised this good thing" - "now therefore may it please you ---"(2 Sam.7:28-29). 1 Kings 8:26 says that Solomon at the dedication of the temple prayed, "O God of Israel, let your word be confirmed which you promised to your servant my father David" (1 Kgs.8:26), and in the end after his prayer of dedication, he said, "Blessed be the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel according to all that he promised; not one word has failed of all his good promise" (1 Kgs.8:56).

For us in our continuing use of the Bible and learning lessons of prayer from it, the fact that the Bible gives us God's promises that he will hear and answer prayer is of utmost significance. Of course, in wisdom and love infinitely beyond ours, God does not always answer in the ways that we expect, but the truth is that he is able and willing "to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine" (Eph.3:20). Prayer in terms of the world's religions can be thought of as the cry of the human heart to a higher Power however such a higher Power is conceived. But for those who believe in God's revealing himself in the Scriptures and supremely in Christ, there is specific guidance as to the meaning and the conditions of prayer, and above all there are promises relating to God's hearing and responding to our prayers.