I used extracts from a sermon delivered by Charles G.Finney called “The reward of fervent prayer” to explain the same thing he explains in his sermon, namely that we ought to pray big.
Charles G. Finney is known for his messages that ignated America’s Second Great Awakening in the 1800’s. He uses a verse from Psalm 81 to deliver a message about prayer.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt. Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.“
This is a promise and an injunction being addressed to the Church and to individual Christians.
“Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”
Of course it is figurative language.
“I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.”
It is addressed to God’s people.
The injunction is to open our month and to open it wide, to open it to its utmost capacity. God instructs us to ask of Him great things and to expect those great things which we ask.
Observe how God never cautions us about asking Him too much but on the contrary tells us to make our requests unlimited.
“Ask and it will be given to you.”
“You may ask for anything in my name and I will do it.“
But why don’t we do it? Out of humility?
Charles G. Finney says ; “What state of mind must the individual be in, who instead of measuring his request by the greatness of God’s mercies, the greatness of His promises and the largeness ot His heart, shall measure them by his own worthiness or unworthiness?”
Believers should not make themselves the standards of their requests.
Therefore, whenever we ask great things of God, and expect great things from Him, we honour Him but when we ask only trifling things we dishonour Him.
If God makes us the light of the world and ask us to let it shine will He not provide for the oil?
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.“
A parent has no higher happiness than to give his little ones what they ask for if it is for their good. And God is greatly interesting in giving us the things that we ask and He delights in doing so.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”
Charles G. Finney rightfully says; “We must not be afraid of asking too much. When we seek favour from a finite being, we might ask so much as to seem unreasonable; but when we come to an infinite being, we cannot ask too largely.”
“Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.“
“The fact is, where little is attempted, little expected, little will be received; but where little is really obtained, the fault is not with God, but entirely with us.”
To go back to the Psalm, let’s read what God says beyond the instruction and promise we’ve seen.
“I heard an unknown voice say:
“I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket.
In your distress you called and I rescued you,
I answered you out of a thundercloud;
I tested you at the waters of Meribah.”
God delights in rescuing us and helping us and perform miracles for us.
“Hear me, my people, and I will warn you— if you would only listen to me, Israel!”
“If only” Can you read the frustration? God wants to do great things for us, but we must listen to Him and obey Him for Him to fulfil His promises.
“You shall have no foreign god among you; you shall not worship any god other than me.
I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt.
Open wide your mouth and I will fill it.
“But my people would not listen to me; Israel would not submit to me.
So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts to follow their own devices.
“If my people would only listen to me, if Israel would only follow my ways, how quickly I would subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes!”
“If only” again, His frustration. If we listen and obey God would do great things for us, but He needs us to listen and open our mouth wide.
Those who hate the Lord would cringe before him, and their punishment would last forever.
But you would be fed with the finest of wheat; with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
See the use of the conditional; “But you would”, we would be fed if only we were to listen. And see how God wants and longs to give us good food, good things “finest wheat” and “honey from the rock” and we would be satisfied but it is under the condition that we listen, that we obey, that we open our mouth wide for God to fulfil His promises in us.
“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”