When God Pours Out Blessings, Part 8
Fourth, Pray to Confess That Our Willingness And Ability Are From God.
And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly?....keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people (1 Chr. 29:13-14, 18)
The pages of Scripture are littered with references to the most fundamental fact of all existence: God, who made all things, is utterly and absolutely sovereign. Yahweh has but to speak, and things spring into existence from nothing in obedience to his very words (Gen. 1). Even the wind and waves obey his command (Mark 4:35-41)! He declares the end of all things from the very beginning, not only predicting but establishing the future (Isa. 46:10). Not even those who go down to the grave can escape him (Ps. 139:8), and indeed death is stripped of its sting because of his power over it (1 Cor. 15:55). Indeed, every promise and prophecy in the Bible depends completely and finally on that comprehensive and all-encompassing control. The late R.C. Sproul once put it this way: “If there is one single molecule in this universe running around loose, totally free of God’s sovereignty, then we have no guarantee that a single promise of God will ever be fulfilled.”
This exhaustive control over his own creation extends even to God’s power over the human heart and will. God hardened the heart of Pharaoh (Ex. 7:3, 13; 9:12; 10:1, 20) that both Egyptians and Israel would “know that I am the LORD” (7:5; 10:2). “The king’s heart is a stream of water in the hand of the LORD; he turns it wherever he will” (Prov. 21:1). And not just the hearts of kings, for whole nations can, by the “hand of God,” be given “one heart” to do God’s will (2 Chr. 30:12). Even saving faith (Phil. 1:29) and repentance (Acts 11:18)—or shall we say “willingness”?—are gifts from God’s hand. Conversely, people are utterly unable to come to Jesus Christ unless the Father “draws” them (John 6:44); the word “draws” means not mere “wooing” but a dragging or pulling action like drawing a bucket from a well.
David, who elsewhere prayed for God to give him a “clean heart” and a “willing spirit,” understood that any ability or willingness or inclination within a person to please God can only ultimately come from God. Knowing this, and seeing his people “willingly” and with a “whole heart” “consecrate” themselves to God and to his dwelling among them, David knew that a miracle had occurred. A supernatural work had happened before his eyes in the assembly before him. No wonder he poured forth such a worshipful prayer!
Do you want to see friends and family and neighbors saved from sin and death? Do you long to see the nations come to Christ, the peoples bend the knee to the Father, every tribe and tongue pour forth worship to the Triune God by the Spirit? No human plan or process or project can make that happen. But our God can. He has in the past and he still does. Maybe it needs to start with you. Perhaps you need to have that longing, to possess David’s “devotion to the house of my God” (1 Chr. 29:3). If so, only God can give that—perhaps “you do not have because you do not ask” (Jas. 4:2). So ask him! And if you do, when you do, “pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Luke 10:2): that is, that God would grant the ability and willingness that makes workers who will go making disciples and building Christ’s church!
Suggestions for prayer:
1. “You do not have, because you do not ask” (Jas. 4:2). We don’t pray as we ought because we don’t view prayer as an urgent priority. Pray that the Lord will help you in your prayers by giving you a heart for prayer.
2. Paul, confident in God’s command of the human heart, prayed for the salvation of others (Rom. 10:1). Even Christians who struggle with God’s sovereignty over the human will instinctively will ask God in prayer for the salvation of lost loved ones. Who do you know that needs a “divine heart transplant,” requiring the gift of faith and repentance? Pray that God would give them, by name, the ability and willingness to come to Christ.
3. Pray for God to raise up workers for the harvest. And not just in the abstract! Pray for God to do so in your own church family, asking for new missionaries and elders and deacons to be equipped and sent out, and indeed for every member of your congregation to do the work of Gospel ministry as they reach out as missionaries to their workplaces, schools, and families.