Call upon God, adore, confess,
Petition, plead, and then declare
You are the Lord's; give thanks and bless,
And let the Amen confirm the prayer. ~Isaac Watts
The fifth item of prayer in this poem by Watts is “plead.” Watts explains pleading as “arguing our case with Him in a fervent yet humble manner.” We state a specific request and present arguments to God as to why He should grant such a thing. These arguments are appeals to God that are based upon His desires as communicated in His Word. Whatever the issue may be, we bring it before God and plead. We plead according to our desires, dangers, and sorrows.
In pleading to God, we can appeal to His nature and attributes. We ask for mercy because He is merciful. We ask for good things because He is good. We ask for grace because He is gracious, and so on.
We can appeal to God according to our relationship with Him. We can claim Him as our Father and ask Him to give what is good to His children. We can claim Him as Creator and ask Him to sustain us. We can claim Him as king to protect us from His enemies who live in His domain.
We can appeal to God according to His name and honor. When great things take place that direct people’s attention to Him and His power, His name and honor are magnified. We should pray that God would save the lost, work through us, and do that which makes Him amazing in the eyes of all.
We can appeal to God according to how He has worked in the lives of His people in the past. When we go through trials, we can appeal to how God has delivered others in the past as David did long ago: “In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame” (Ps 22:4–5). We should also remember that deliverance may not be the removal of a trial but the grace to sustain its difficulty.
A quick review of a parable in Luke 16:1–8 allows us to understand an important lesson that Jesus taught in Luke 16:9. A mediocre manager reported to his master and was consequently fired for squandering his master’s goods (16:1–2). As a part of being relieved from his position, he was commanded to turn in an account of his work (16:2). Knowing he was going to lose his employment and that other means of work were not his to be had (16:3), he made preparations for housing the future (16:4). He went to each of his master’s debtors, figured out their debts (16:5), and reduced their debts while he still had the power to do so (16:6–7). He reduced a bill of 100 measures of oil to 50 (about 875 gallons to under 450) and 100 measures of wheat to 80 (about 1000 bushels to 800). Despite the fact that the steward illegally reduced the debts (i.e., without his master’s consent), the master’s response was to commend the steward (16:8a). The reason for this commendation was that the manager was shrewd with money in dealing with his dilemma (16:8b).
Jesus makes his lesson clear at the end of the parable: “And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (16:9). In the context of the preceding parable, what Jesus meant with these words is this: if unbelievers (“the sons of this world,” 16:8) are shrewd with their use of money for themselves, our use of money as believers should be just as wisely used, but for the spiritual good of others.
To elaborate further, by using money to meet the needs of the church and especially evangelistic endeavors, you can “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth.” When this life is over and the money is gone, the “friends” who have come to the Lord or have benefited in some way through how this money has been used “may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” In short, using our money to minister to others is an earthly investment that will result in eternal dividends.
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.