Dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, it is a great joy to be able to share with you these seven Readings for the Week of Prayer. The days, weeks, and months have passed quickly, and we are at the end of 2018. It is time to take time from our hectic schedules to consider our walk with God. This is the special week that is ob- served every year to dedicate ourselves to reading God’s word and to prayer. The theme is “Spiritual Gifts.” “Thou hast ascended on high, Thou hast led captivity captive: Thou hast received gifts for men;…” Psalm 68:18.
As the end draws near, God’s people need to root themselves in the Bible every day. We need to know more deeply what it means to do His holy will as revealed and written and also to apply that word practically and individually. Being faithful in “that which is least” will prepare us to go through the times of “anguish” that lie ahead and to be ready to meet our beloved Saviour Jesus Christ in peace.
Prayer is extraordinary and totally effective in communicating with God. As a church, we need to see prayer as the breath of the soul, or, as the Lord expressed it through the apostle Paul, we need to “Pray without ceasing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:17. These Readings are meant to stimulate us to read, study, do research in the Bible, and pray. This is our opportunity to cling to the Lord with all our being, as did Jacob, and until the dawn breaks and God’s people are delivered. It will be a great blessing during this special week to kneel and pray fervently three times a day and to surrender our wills to God. He is worthy of our deepest gratitude for His abundant blessings, even as we continue to plead for His mercy, His Spirit, and His guidance in the work that the church has been commissioned to complete in this world.
“For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” “Now concern- ing spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” “Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.” Romans 11:29; 1 Corinthians 12:1; 14:12. As we consider these “Spiritual Gifts,” we desire to inspire the members and all who wish to be enriched by these Readings to discover the gifts with which God has blessed us so we can bless others. At the same time, let us cultivate the gifts that are so necessary to advance the kingdom of Christ here on earth. There are many branches of service in which consecrated hands are needed to reach the world. “The Lord would have us careful to do our best, making wise use of our faculties and opportunities. He has endowed men with gifts with which to bless and edify others; it is our duty so to educate ourselves that we may be fitted for the great work committed to us….” –Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, p. 239.
That is why we extend this invitation not only to adults and the elderly, but particularly to the young people and children to prepare and train to serve the Lord. We need to unite knowledge and youthful strength with experience to be able joyfully to fulfill the great commission to preach “the gospel of the kingdom … for a witness unto all nations.” Matthew 24:14. In the past, it was said to the apostles, “… and, behold ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine,…” Acts 5:28. How wonderful it will be when it is said of us that we have filled the world with the doctrine of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ! Then the end will come.
Sabbath, December 15, 2018, will be a special day of fasting and prayer. On that day, we will afflict our souls “be- tween the porch and the altar” in the presence of God. Joel 2:17. The special Week of Prayer Offering for the General Conference will be gathered at the end of the service, to be used to expand the gospel into countries that have not yet heard the present truth. It is customary for each of us to place our offerings in an envelope on which is written a Bible verse that has impressed us and that we desire to share with the congregation and with the Lord following the final Reading. The Bible texts and amounts can be read before the congregation at the end of the service as encouragement and in gratitude to God.
May the Lord in the heavens hear the prayers of His people, multiply the donations, and grant His blessing to all who cherish and use their spiritual gifts. God be with His people as they embark on the new year.
–The brethren of the General Conference and the Ministerial Research Institute