Sabbath, March 20, 2004
“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16.
IT IS POSSIBLE TO COMMUNICATE WITH THE KING OF THE UNIVERSE
1. I s it enough to just contemplate nature to be able to communicate with God?
Philippians 4:6 Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.
“Through nature and revelation, through His providence, and by the influence of His Spirit, God speaks to us. But these are not enough; we need also to pour out our hearts to Him. In order to have spiritual life and energy, we must have actual intercourse with our heavenly Father. Our minds may be drawn out toward Him; we may meditate upon His works, His mercies, His blessings; but this is not, in the fullest sense, communing with Him. In order to commune with God, we must have something to say to Him concerning our actual life.” – Steps to Christ, p. 93.
2. What does the act of prayer actually include?
1 Samuel 1:15 And Hannah answered and said, No, my lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.
“Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him.” –Steps to Christ, p. 93.
OCCASIONAL CONTACT IS NOT ENOUGH
3. What happens to us when we neglect prayer?
Matthew 26:41 Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.
“The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray. The whispered temptations of the enemy entice them to sin; and it is all because they do not make use of the privileges that God has given them in the divine appointment of prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven’s storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence?” – Steps to Christ, pp. 94, 95.
4. In what condition must I be so that God can hear my prayers? What is the reason why God cannot hear my prayers? What other requirement is necessary so that my prayers may reach the throne of God?
Matthew 5:6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
Isaiah 1:15, 16 And when ye spread forth your hands, I will hide mine eyes from you: yea, when ye make many prayers, I will not hear: your hands are full of blood. 16. Wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before mine eyes; cease to do evil.
“There are certain conditions upon which we may expect that God will hear and answer our prayers. One of the first of these is that we feel our need of help from Him. He has promised, ‘I will pour water upon him that is thirsty, and floods upon the dry ground.’ Isaiah 44:3. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness, who long after God, may be sure that they will be filled. The heart must be open to the Spirit’s influence, or God’s blessing cannot be received.…
“If we regard iniquity in our hearts, if we cling to any known sin, the Lord will not hear us; but the prayer of the enitent, contrite soul is always accepted. When all known wrongs are righted, we may believe that God will answer our petitions. Our own merit will never commend us to the favor of God; it is the worthiness of Jesus that will save us, His blood that will cleanse us; yet we have a work to do in complying with the conditions of acceptance.
“Another element of prevailing prayer is faith. ‘He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.’ Hebrews 11:6. Jesus said to His disciples, ‘What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.’ Mark 11:24. Do we take Him at His word?” – Steps to Christ, pp. 95,96.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE WHEN NO ANSWER IS GIVEN?
5. What should I cling to when I notice that that my prayers are not being answered?
2 Corinthians 1:20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.
“The assurance is broad and unlimited, and He is faithful who has promised. When we do not receive the very things we asked for, at the time we ask, we are still to believe that the Lord hears and that He will answer our prayers. We are so erring and short-sighted that we sometimes ask for things that would not be a blessing to us, and our heavenly Father in love answers our prayers by giving us that which will be for our highest good–that which we ourselves would desire if with vision divinely enlightened we could see all things as they really are. When our prayers seem not to be answered, we are to cling to the promise; for the time of answering will surely come, and we shall receive the blessing we need most. But to claim that prayer will always be answered in the very way and for the particular thing that we desire, is presumption. God is too wise to err, and too good to withhold any good thing from them that walk uprightly. Then do not fear to trust Him, even though you do not see the immediate answer to your prayers. Rely upon His sure promise, ‘Ask, and it shall be given you.’ “ – Steps to Christ, p. 96.
6. What is necessary to receive an answer from God?
Luke 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Luke 11:9, 10 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
“Perseverance in prayer has been made a condition of receiving. We must pray always if we would grow in faith and experience. We are to be ‘instant in prayer,’ to ‘continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving.’ Romans 12:12; Colossians 4:2. Peter exhorts believers to be ‘sober, and watch unto prayer.’ 1 Peter 4:7. Paul directs, ‘In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.’ Philippians 4:6. ‘But ye, beloved,’ says Jude, ‘praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God.’ Jude 20, 21. Unceasing prayer is the unbroken union of the soul with God, so that life from God flows into our life; and from our life, purity and holiness flow back to God.” – Steps to Christ, pp. 97, 98.
TIME AND NATURE OF PRAYER
7. During what time of the day can I pray?
1 Thessalonians 5:17 Pray without ceasing.
“There is necessity for diligence in prayer; let nothing hinder you. Make every effort to keep open the communion between Jesus and your own soul. Seek every opportunity to go where prayer is wont to be made. Those who are really seeking for communion with God will be seen in the prayer meeting, faithful to do their duty and earnest and anxious to reap all the benefits they can gain. They will improve every opportunity of placing themselves where they can receive the rays of light from heaven.”We should pray in the family circle, and above all we must not neglect secret prayer, for this is the life of the soul. It is impossible for the soul to flourish while prayer is neglected. Family or public prayer alone is not sufficient. In solitude let the soul be laid open to the inspecting eye of God. Secret prayer is to be heard only by the prayer-hearing God. No curious ear is to receive the burden of such petitions. In secret prayer the soul is free from surrounding influences, free from excitement. Calmly, yet fervently, will it reach out after God. Sweet and abiding will be the influence emanating from Him who seeth in secret, whose ear is open to hear the prayer arising from the heart. By calm, simple faith the soul holds communion with God and gathers to itself rays of divine light to strengthen and sustain it in the conflict with Satan. God is our tower of strength.
“Pray in your closet, and as you go about your daily labor let your heart be often uplifted to God. It was thus that Enoch walked with God. These silent prayers rise like precious incense before the throne of grace. Satan cannot overcome him whose heart is thus stayed upon God.” – Steps to Christ, pp. 98, 99.
8. What should prayer become in my daily life?
Psalm 130:6 My soul waiteth for the Lord more than they that watch for the morning: I say, more than they that watch for the morning.
Isaiah 26:9 With my soul have I desired thee in the night; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek thee early: for when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world will learn righteousness.
“We need to have more distinct views of Jesus and a fuller comprehension of the value of eternal realities. The beauty of holiness is to fill the hearts of God’s children; and that this may be accomplished, we should seek for divine disclosures of heavenly things.
“Let the soul be drawn out and upward, that God may grant us a breath of the heavenly atmosphere. We may keep so near to God that in every unexpected trial our thoughts will turn to Him as naturally as the flower turns to the sun.” – Steps to Christ, pp. 99, 100.
• What is prayer for you: a habit, a duty, a joy or a blessing?
• Can you remember and mention cases in which prayer hasprotected you from falling into temptation?
• Until now have your prayers only expressed certain ideas or have they been a true pouring out of your soul before God?
• How have you reacted when some of your prayer requests have not been answered in the way you expected?
• What can you say about your personal prayer life, does this play a primary role in your life?