How We Should Pray
Christ says, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” In these words, Christ gives us direction as to how we should pray. We are to come to our heavenly Father with the simplicity of a child, asking him for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says again, “When ye pray, believe that ye receive the things ye ask for, and ye shall have them.” You are to come to the Father repenting and confessing your sins, emptying the soul of every sin and defilement, and it is your privilege to prove the promises of the Lord. You cannot indulge your own temper, and have your own way, and still remain the children of God. We shall have to struggle with our hereditary tendencies, that we may not yield to temptation, and become angry under provocation. I have to battle every day with things that trouble, perplex, and annoy me, and which, if I would permit, would destroy my peace. But I dare not yield to temptation; I have riveted my soul to the eternal Rock, and Christ must be my helper at every point, so that Satan may not keep me in a state of perplexity and trouble. Jesus has said, “My peace I give unto you.” As surely as we seek for the peace of Christ by faith, we shall obtain it. Jesus says, “Ask, and ye shall receive.”
You are to come to Jesus, telling him just what you want, just what you desire; you are to present before him your need of his presence and grace, coming to him as a child comes to its parent. Jesus says, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”
We are to believe the word of God; for the test of character is found in the fact that you are building yourselves up in the most holy faith. You are proved of God through the word of God. You are not to wait for wonderful emotions before you believe that God has heard you; feeling is not to be your criterion, for emotions are as changeable as the clouds. You must have something solid for the foundation of your faith. The word of the Lord is a word of infinite power upon which you may rely, and he has said, “Ask, and ye shall receive.” Look to Calvary. Has not Jesus said that he is our advocate? Has he not said that if we ask anything in his name, we shall receive? You are not to depend on your own goodness or good works; you are to come depending upon the Sun of righteousness, believing that Christ has taken away your sins and imputed to you his righteousness, that he is your all in all, your surety, your advocate, your righteousness.
Jesus fought our battles during his life upon this atom of a world, and all the heavenly intelligences are enlisted on our side in every battle in this warfare. We have no power to war with principalities, and powers, and spiritual wickedness in high places, except as we draw strength from Christ. Jesus calls upon you to behold the confederacy of evil, to behold the conflicts which you must meet. He bids us count the cost of standing under the blood-stained banner; for he does not flatter us that we shall have no difficulties in this life. But although we have a confederacy of evil to meet, Jesus assures us that the whole army of heaven is enlisted to fight our battles for us, to work out for us a glorious victory, and Jesus is the Captain of our salvation.
Why should we not praise God? Can you tell me why your tongues are usually so silent on this theme? Has not heavenly power been promised you? Has not nourishment from the living Vine nourished you? Jesus says, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples.” Jesus has made abundant provision so that every soul connected with him may work as he worked, partaking of his Spirit, his virtue, and grace. Self is to die, and Christ is to live in us. Jesus says, “As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.” If you do this, you will have to fight the good fight of faith every moment.
How often the following experience has been the experience of the people of God: One says, “I was full of happiness last night, but this morning it is all gloom. I have lost the blessing of God. The Lord does not bless me at all.” I have had this experience, and at one time I resolved that I would never bear testimony again, unless I had the conscious uplifting of the Spirit of God. But one trial of such a resolution proved to me that it was manifest distrust of the word of God. The Lord brought me back to the point from which I started, and I resolved not to seek to bring the Lord to my terms. I felt humbled as never before, and I was willing to trust my heavenly Father to lead me as he would. I would say, “Lord, I have asked for thy Holy Spirit to lead me, I take up my pen and write, and I believe I shall have thy light and thy grace in doing this work.” While on earth, we can have help from heaven. I know this; for I have tested God a thousand times. I will walk out by faith, I will not dishonor my Saviour by unbelief.
Let us continue to fight the good fight of faith, ceasing to doubt, and not striving to make terms with God. After I surrendered myself to God, I found out why I had seemed to lose the blessing of God. It was because earth and earthly things filled me with anxiety, and I worried about a thousand things that I had no right to be anxious about. When we come into meeting, we meet with persons who have consecrated themselves to the Lord, and heavenly angels accompany them; for every one of us has, not our dead friends, but the angels whom God created in heaven to be with us; they are sent forth to minister to those who shall be heirs of salvation. While in the company of those who bring heavenly influences with them, we feel the spirit of inspiration and praise to God come forth from our lips. We lie down to rest at night, but in the morning the same old worldly train of thought to which we have been accustomed, comes back to our minds, and instead of resting everything in the hands of God, we become troubled about many things, the peace and joy that we had the night before are gone, and we feel desolate and unblessed. Then what shall we do? Let us go to God, and say, “I commit all my troubles and perplexities to thee, and I know that I shall have thy help in all my tribulation, because thou hast promised it unto me. Thou hast said, ‘Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.’ ‘I am at your right hand to help you.’” Believe these words, trust in the promise of Jesus, and do your duty as it comes to you. If we manifested as much distrust of our friends as we do of God, they would feel that we had greatly wronged them; but we do not treat our friends in the way we treat our God.
When Christ was upon earth, the people did not believe in him; they rejected the Lord of glory, condemned and crucified him. But the heavenly Vine had its roots on the other side of the wall; death could not hold him. He arose from the grave, and sitteth on the right hand of the Father, the majesty on high, where he can direct the heavenly intelligences, bidding them come to the help of every repenting soul. With the confession of the repenting, believing sinner, he mingles his own righteousness, that the prayer of fallen man may go up as fragrant incense before the Father, and the grace of God is imparted to the believing soul. We should think of what we are to Jesus, and of what he is to us, that we may carry on a successful warfare against the flesh, and against the natural tendencies of the mind. We are exhorted to gird up the loins of the mind, and to do this we must settle the mind upon Jesus. We need this education; for we talk of common things, we utter commonplace sayings, and seek inspiration from ourselves, thinking that it is of value; but it is Christless.
If we talk upon heavenly things, our conversation will prove savor of life unto life; but lightness and trifling will prove death to spirituality. Let us sow the seed unto eternal life. Let us scatter, as did Christ, the seeds of truth. Work as Christ worked. He says, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” You are to draw men to Christ, not by gloom and despondency, covering the altar of God with tears, but by wearing the brightness of the Sun of righteousness. You are to show that you are serving a loving Master, not a tyrant. Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” “To him the porter openeth; and the sheep hear his voice: and he calleth his own sheep by name, and leadeth them out. And When he putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.” It is your Master who saith, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus does not say, “Perhaps I will give you rest.” Then why do you act that perhaps? Why not say, “Lord, here I come, sinful and polluted. Thou hast promised to give me rest”? “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.” Satan will tell you that you are a sinner, that there is no need of your praying and repenting after committing such a sin as you have committed; but you can tell Satan that it is because you are a sinner that you need a Saviour. You may go to the Lord, and say, “Forgive my sin. I put my hand to thy hand for help, and I must have thy forgiveness or perish. Let the Sun of righteousness shine into the chambers of my mind and heart, that I may teach transgressors thy ways, and that sinners may be converted unto thee.”
When the enemy comes in like a flood, and seeks to overwhelm you with the thought of your sin, tell him, “I know I am a sinner; if I were not, I could not go to the Saviour, for he says, ‘I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.’ And because I am a sinner, I am entitled to come to Christ.” In this way you will have power to overcome the wicked one. Keep looking up, for your faith has bound you to the throne of God. Do not look down, as though you were bound to earth. Do not keep pulling up your faith to see if it has any root. Faith grows imperceptibly, and when the enemy rallies his forces to bring you into a critical place, the angels of God will be roundabout you, and you will have help from on high; for your prayer will be answered in the conflict. If you have genuine faith, you will praise God, from whom all blessings flow; and as you praise him, you will realize more of his blessing.
What doth much increase the store,
When I thank him, he gives me more.
As God gives us light, we should make use of it; God will not give us a second ray, while the first is not appreciated. We must praise the Lord for the light already graciously given, and reflect it upon those around us. Then more light will shine upon us, and as we praise, we shall know that “the path of the just is as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.” Do not say, I will praise the Lord when the Holy Spirit is poured out upon us. How will you know when the Holy Spirit is poured out, unless you walk in the light day by day? You are to go about your duties, advancing step, by step, according to the counsel of the Lord, and you will find that you will have light and peace and joy, and will make melody in your heart unto the Lord. Thus the people of God will mingle their praises with those of the hosts of heaven, and sing songs of thanksgiving with the angels of God.
— E.G. White, Review and Herald, October 11, 1892