One of my favorite old commentaries (very threadbare now in its binding) is James Denney’s on Second Corinthians. In it a few days ago I came across his reflections on Paul’s words that in Christ
“All God’s promises are Yes” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
“God’s promises are His declarations of what He is willing to do for men; and in the very nature of the case they are at once the inspiration and the limit of our prayers. We are encouraged to ask all that God promises, and we must stop there.
“Christ Himself then is the measure of prayer to man; we can ask all that is in Him; we dare not ask anything that lies outside of Him.
“We can ask God to give us Christ’s purity, Christ’s simplicity, Christ’s meekness and gentleness, Christ’s faithfulness and obedience, Christ’s victory over the world.
“Can we fix our eyes on His Son, and … ask without any qualification that our course here may be free from trouble?
“Had Christ now sorrow? Did He never meet with ingratitude? Was He never misunderstood? Was He never hungry, thirsty, weary?
“What if all unanswered prayers might be defined as prayers for things not included in the promises – prayers that we might get what Christ did not get, or be spared what He was not spared?”
Worth thinking (and praying) about that!
James Denney, The Second Epistle to the Corinthians