A Prayer of Self-Denial
February 14, 2021
1 Chronicles 29:10–19
1 Chronicles 29:10–19
A Prayer of Self-Denial, 1 Chron 29:10–19
This week as I was studying the topic of prayer in Scripture, I ran across an article that provided this statistic. This article state that there are 650 prayers referenced in the Bible. Don’t worry. This doesn’t mean that we will spend the next 649 weeks studying the prayers of Scripture. While I do think it would be a fruitful study, for Scripture always has something new and fresh to say to us, we won’t be doing that.
Nonetheless, it raises a dilemma for me in this prayer series. If we are going to study the prayers of Scripture yet we are not going to study all of the prayers of Scripture, I must make the choice to pick which ones we will study and exclude the ones we don’t. This is different than an exposition of a book of the Bible. Like when we were in Philippians, we plodded through the entire book, verse by verse. That’s really easy for me in my preparation. I don’t have to pick what I will preach next. I simply pick up where I left off. With this prayer series, it’s different. I must pick and choose what I will preach on, rather than having the passages I preach be picked for me.
So for the past two weeks we studied the Lord’s prayer. I pray that you found that beneficial. That was a NT prayer. In the prayer series, I want to spend a lot of time in the OT. I think it’s very healthy for us to routinely visit both testaments. For this week and the following two weeks, we will be exploring certain OT prayers. For these OT prayers, we will explore these passages. For this morning’s sermon, we will be in 1 Chron 29. That will be the passage we explore this morning. Next week we will delve into Psalm 3. And in two weeks we will jump into Nehemiah’s prayer in Neh 1. We will explore 1 Chron 29 this morning, Ps 3 next week, and Neh 1 in two weeks. In three weeks, we will explore Acts 4:23–31. So that is where we are headed for the next four weeks. As we delve into these passages together as a church, please read them, study them, and make notes of them in preparation for the sermon.
And, once again, if you ever have any comments or concerns about the sermon, I would love to have the opportunity to visit with you. It is my job to preach the Word. And it is your job to make sure that what I am preaching arises from the Bible. Keep me accountable, dear church family.
Let us go ahead and open up together in our Bibles to 1 Chron 29:10. The title of this morning’s sermon is, “A Prayer of Self-Denial.” “A Prayer of Self-Denial.” As brother Bob read during our time of corporate Scripture reading, Jesus teaches that self-denial is an essential aspect of the Christian life. Jesus said in the passage that Bob read,
If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.
To be a Christian, to be a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ, one must deny themselves. To follow Jesus, I must say no to Chance and yes to Jesus. To follow Jesus, you must say no to you and yes to Jesus. This command of self-denial ought to impact the way that we pray. Self-denial is an attribute part of Christianity and prayer is an essential part of Christianity, so self-denial needs to make its way into our prayer lives.
The way I want you to understand self-denial this morning in relation to pray is I want you to understand it as an attitude. Specifically, an attitude that we much of God and we make little of ourselves. Self-denial in prayer, as we will see, looks like us making much of God in our prayers and making little of us. God is great, and we are not.
What I want you to get out of this morning’s prayer is a better understanding of how you should do this. I want you to pray more prayers of self-denial. To help you do that, I want to show you how to do that by looking at David’s prayer of self-denial. We want to grow in our ability and frequency of praying prayers of self-denial. To do this we will see how David did it.
We will not read through the text all the way through at the beginning of the sermon like we usually do. Rather, I will read each part of the text as we move through the passage. Four points for you this morning.
Focus on God’s Greatness
The first point is this. “Focus on God’s Greatness.” To pray prayers of self-denial we must focus on God’s greatness. We must focus on the greatness of God. I get this point from vv. 10–13. Davis prays this,
Therefore David blessed the LORD in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name.
To understand this passage as a whole and this portion specifically, we need to unpack the context of David’s prayer first.
What we have here in this portion of 1 Chronicles is a retelling of the events that happened near the end of David’s life. If you want to study this yourself, just read 1 Chron 28 and 29. I will summarize these two chapters briefly.
David was the second King of Israel, Israel’s most important king. One of the main goals that David wanted to accomplish in his life is that he wanted to build a temple for God. God say no to this desire. Sometimes in life God’s says no to good and godly desires we have. God did that with David. Instead of David building the temple, God’s plan was to have Solomon, David son, build the temple.
Even though David was not to be the one who built God’s temple, he still prepared Solomon to build it. He gave Solomon the divinely-inspired plans for the temple. Also, David passed onto Solomon resources and money to help him build the temple. David here is like a godly parent who passes on an inheritance to his children to help his/her children succeed in life. David is passing onto Solomon an inheritance to build the temple.
Also, the people of Israel pass onto Solomon gifts to help Solomon build the temple. Solomon’s father, David, and the people of Israel provided for Solomon what he needed to build the temple.
After this happened, there was great rejoicing in the nation of Israel. This rejoicing is mentioned in 28:9. Look with me there. The passage reads,
Then the people rejoiced because they had given willingly, for with a whole heart they had offered freely to the LORD. David the king also rejoiced greatly.
God as Redeemer
In light of the material blessing that Solomon inherits and the tremendous joy that has filled David’s heart, David offers this prayer to God in 1 Chron 29:10–19. David begins his prayer exalting God. As we saw in the Lord’s prayer, exalting God in prayer—his name, his kingdom, and his will—ought to be an essential part of our prayer lives. David teaches us exactly what Jesus teaches us. There is tremendous harmony in the Bible about prayer. We must focus on God’s greatness.
What we see in vv. 10–13 is that David focuses on different yet compatible doctrines concerning who God is. Look in v. 10. David says,
Blessed are you, O LORD, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.
This reference hints at God’s role as the redeemer of Israel. This verse indicates that David is thinking of God’s covenant relationship with the people of Israel. By mentioning Israel, David discusses God as redeemer of Israel. God is faithful to Israel forever and ever. Notice how it says, “our father Israel.” Israel is the name given to Jacob. Jacob in Genesis is from who the twelve tribes of Israel come.
God as Owner
Along with God as redeemer, David also references God as owner of all things. Look in v. 11. David says,
Yours, O LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours.
Notice why David attributes greatness and power and glory and victory and majesty to God. It’s because “all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours.” Now look at the beginning of v. 12.
Both riches and honor come from you
All that David has. All that I have. All that you have comes from God. God owns everything. He owns it all. We own nothing truly. Even our lives we owe to God. God is the owner of all things.
God as King
God is also King. The end of v. 11 and in v. 12.
Yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all. . . . you rule over all. In your hand are power and might.
God is King. He rules. He reigns. His name is what is preeminent.
God as Provider
Lastly, David speaks of God as provider. He’s redeemer, owner, king, and provider. Verse 12 right at the end.
In your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.
God provides generously to mankind. David is both great and strong. David attirbutes this greatness and strength to God.
To pray prayers of self-denial we must keep at the forefront the magnificence of God. This is what David does. This is what the Lord Jesus taught us in the Lord’s prayer. We need to, over and over again, exalt God in our prayers. It’s all about him.
I heard recently of a pastor who said that our prayers should be so concerned with God and focused on him that unbelievers need to get bored in our churches when we pray. I think there’s a lot of truth to that.
Life is all about God magnificence. Christianity is a all about God’s magnificence. And prayer, specifically a prayer of self-denial, ought to be all about God’s magnificence.
Focus on Your Need
Our next point. Transitioning now. Our next point is this: “Focus on your need.” To pray prayers of self-denial, we need to focus on our need. One of the greatest challenges you will face in this life, in your prayer life, is the belief that you don’t need God. The belief of human self-sufficiency is an idea we must over and over again reject. We are not sufficient. We are not strong. We are not independent. The Bible says that we desperately need God.
One song puts it this way. This song is entitled, “I Need Thee Every Hour.”
I need Thee, O I need Thee Every hour I need Thee O bless me now, my Savior I come to Thee O bless me now, my Savior I come to Thee
O, dear friend, that so true. More than the air we breathe, more than the water we drink, more than the food we eat, more than the human relationships we have, we need God.
We see David express his need throughout this prayer. Look at verse 14. Just walking through this passage. Verse 14 reads,
But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you.
The thought that David expresses here is one of tremendous humility. The question that David asks at the beginning is one of tremendous perplexation that God would bless David to the point of David offering this gift to God for the building of the temple. It’s like this.
Sometimes we come to a point in their lives when they contemplate why God has chosen to use us in the way that he has. Let’s say you are towards the end of your life. You look back upon history and reflect upon the goodness of God. What you have seen God do in your life has been amazing. You love God. Your family is healthy. You have money, wealth, surplus. You have all that you need. And you think to yourself,
God, who am I that you would give all of these blessings towards. I am a sinner. You know that, God. And yet, God, you have given me so much. Why me, God? Why me? Who am I that you would bless me in this way?!
That’s what David is saying here. David is expression perplexation that God act as kindly towards him and the people of Israel as he has. Who are we, dear friends, that God would bless us as he has, and further take what he has given us and allow us to give it back to him?!? That’s like what David is prayer.
A Bitter Hopelessness without God
God is so great. He is so good. He is so tremendous. He blesses and blesses and blesses. Further, He alone is the source of all good. In our prayers, we must realize that with him we have everything but without him we have nothing. In our prayers, we need to confess and tell God that without him we have nothing.
Look at verse 15. David says,
For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.
I want to focus on the last statement of v. 15: “Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding.” What’s this mean?
To illustrate this, imagine this with me in a second. And I’d like to engage the young theologians of the congregation. I do apologize, young theologians, for not speaking to you directly in a while. So we’re focusing on this issue of the bitter hopelessness of life without God. What is like? Can we think of a situation of hopelessness that is kind of like our hopelessness with out God? So this morning it was bitterly cold. When I woke up and looked at the temperature it said -22 degrees. Before moving here, I didn’t know that was possible. Young theologians, that’s cold, right? Like really cold? Imagine going out into that type of weather barefooted and in summer clothes. Imagine that. Imagine going outside in this weather in your bathing suit. Imagine that. You would get hurt. You wouldn’t survive. Imagine how terrible, painful that would be. Going outside in this weather in your bathing suit is kind of like how living life without God is. There is no hope out there in that cold, especially if your in your bathing suit. So also, there is no hope in life without God.
In your prayers confess to God, young theologians, that life without God is like going outside in this freezing weather in a bathing suit and barefooted. Confess that to God. Tell God that.
Not Opposed to our Love for God
Now to pray these types of humble prayers, to express to God our need, does not mean that we don’t also tell God how much we love him. So remember how David spoke to God by asking, “God who am I to offer this gift to you.” Remember that? Now look at vv. 16–17. They read,
O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own. I know, my God, that you test the heart and have pleasure in uprightness. In the uprightness of my heart I have freely offered all these things, and now I have seen your people, who are present here, offering freely and joyously to you.
Notice that David is sharing his heart he. He says, in v. 16, that he and Israel offer these things “for your holy name.” That’s good. David confesses that. In praying prayers of self-denial, we can and we ought to tell God how much we love him and how we want to glorify him. We are sinners. Yes. But also God works in us and we can actually glorify God in this live. David says in v. 17 that he offers these things to God “in the uprightness of his heart.” Yes. Amen.
To pray a prayer of self-denial is not to pray a prayer of dread but of joy. In praying these prayers, tell God how much you love him. Tell him how joyous you are to offer these prayers to him.
Ask God to Provide
Point three. Write this. “Ask God to Provide.”
In our prayers of self-denial, God wants us to ask him to provide for us. Yes, we must humble ourselves but our humbling ourselves does not mean we think that God does not love us or that God does not want to provide for us. Self-denial is not self-hatred. Self-denial is not, “God, I’m so terrible. Don’t give me anything. Don’t provide for me. I deserve nothing but hell. Don’t bless me.” No. While it is true that we deserve nothing from God, God’s character is to bless us regardless. God wants to bless you, dear friend. God wants to provide for you. In your prayers of self-denial, ask God for his blessings, his grace. Ask him to provide.
A Plea for Faithfulness
Look at v. 18. David says,
O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, our fathers, keep forever such purposes and thoughts in the hearts of your people, and direct their hearts toward you.
David requests God’s continual work for the people of Israel. Israel does not deserve God’s grace, but David still prays it. And this is what we need to do, too. Ask God to provide spiritual blessing upon others.
A Plea of Fatherly Love
Now look at v. 19. David makes a personal request here. He asks,
Grant to Solomon my son a whole heart that he may keep your commandments, your testimonies, and your statutes, performing all, and that he may build the palace for which I have made provision.
David prays for his son. Prays for his blessing. David prays that God’s grace and mercy would be upon his son. David as Solomon’s father intercedes for Solomon.
When we pray prayers of self-denial we must not verge into the realm of thinking that God only wants us to confess our unworthiness before him. In praying these prayers, we must remember the goodness of God. Even in your sin, even in your unworthiness, God still wants to bless you. God’s heart is always for you. His heart towards you is one of generosity, blessing, and grace. Yes, you are unworthy, but yes also to God’s love for unworthy sinners. We don’t deserve this and that’s the whole point.
Humbling ourselves before God does not mean that we do not also seek God’s love for us and for his provision for us. In our sin and weakness and inadequacy, we come to him. We come begging him for his kindness and provision, not rejecting it because that’s what we deserve. Don’t seek from God what you deserve. Seek from God what he wants to give you—which is not what you deserve.
Remember the Goodness of God
Last point for our sermon this morning. It is this. “Remember the goodness of God.” In praying a prayer of self-denial, we must remember the goodness of God. This is tightly related to the point I just made. God wants to bless you. And he will bless you. God will answer your prayers. Look how he answered David’s prayer.
So we covered in v. 19 David’s prayer for his son. And look at how the author of Chronicles interprets how God answered David’s prayer. It’s found in 29:23–25. The passage reads,
Solomon sat on the LORD’s throne as king in place of his father David; he was successful and all Israel was loyal to him. All the officers and warriors, as well as all of King David’s sons, pledged their allegiance to King Solomon. The LORD greatly magnified Solomon before all Israel and bestowed on him greater majesty than any king of Israel before him.
Based upon this summary, did God answer David’s prayer for his son in 29:19? He did. Now we know that Solomon made many mistakes, but at the end of the day Solomon was a man greatly used by God. Further, as 2 Chron records, Solomon built the temple. God was faithful to answer David’s prayer request for David’s son. For heaven’s sake, we’re talking about Solomon right now. God honored David’s prayer request.
This is the final takeaway I want you to get. In praying prayers of self-denial, we actually don’t deny ourselves. In praying prayers of self-denial, we actually do not deny ourselves. Denying yourself in prayer is the surest way of gaining God’s blessing. Denying yourself in prayer is actually loving yourself. In denying ourselves, we lose what is not worth keeping, which is our sin. We rightfully and truthfully place ourselves under the magnificence of God. We exalt him and recognize that he is supreme above all. We also recognize that we are not supreme. That like the hopelessness of going outside in the bitter cold in summer clothes, life without God is bitterly hopeless. When we do that, God fills us with himself. We lose ourselves only to end up finding it in God.
Touching on the passage that Bob read at the beginning of our service, which I also touched on. Jesus says this to us,
“If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it.”
Deny yourself in prayer. It is the surest way to experience God’s blessing. In losing your life in self-denial, you actually save your life, by means of the goodness, grace, and mercy of God.