Claim God’s Promises with ‘You Said’ Prayers

A bold and more confident way to pray.

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Posted in , Feb 9, 2022

Arms reached out in prayer

I learned to pray at an early age from my parents and church leaders. I’ve since learned new things about prayer from many sources: authors, monks, pastors and friends. I’ve even learned a valuable prayer skill from Ethan the Ezrahite. 

“Who?” you may ask. I’m glad you did.

Ethan the Ezrahite was apparently a very wise man (see 1 Kings 4:31, where he was mentioned as a standard of wisdom) who is credited with having written Psalm 89, the one that begins:  

I will sing of the Lord’s great love forever;
    with my mouth I will make your faithfulness known
    through all generations (Psalm 89:1 NIV).

In that psalm, Ethan models a way of praying that helps me to pray more confidently and faith-fully. In one quatrain, he prays: 

You said, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
    I have sworn to David my servant,
‘I will establish your line forever
    and make your throne firm through all generations’” (Psalm 89:3-4 NIV).

Later in the psalm, he addresses God: 

Once you spoke in a vision,
    to your faithful people you said:
“I have bestowed strength on a warrior;
    I have raised up a young man from among the people.
I have found David my servant;
    with my sacred oil I have anointed him.
My hand will sustain him;
    surely my arm will strengthen him” (Psalm 89:19-21 NIV).

That second summary of what God said goes on for 16 more verses before Ethan says, “But you have rejected, you have spurned, you have been very angry with your anointed one” (Psalm 89:38 NIV). He points out numerous ways God has apparently—emphasis on apparently—failed to keep His word before calling on Him to fulfill His promises. 

Wow. Bold move, right? But Ethan the Ezrahite’s example teaches us that “you said” prayers are a valid and powerful way to pray. Not that God needs reminding, but we do. And “you said” prayers like the following can help us to pray more confidently than we might otherwise do: 

“God, you said those who hope in you ‘will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint’ (Isaiah 40:31 NIV). Renew my strength, according to your word.”

“Heavenly Father, you said ‘If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you’ (James 1:5 NIV). So I’m asking. Please give me wisdom in this decision.”

“Lord, you said you would be with us always, even to the ends of the age (Matthew 28:20 NIV). Be with me here. Be with me now.” 

Those are just examples, of course, but there are many similar “you said” prayers that can recall to our minds and hearts the enduring promises of God and call to Him to fulfill His words in our current circumstances.

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