Brethren, in addition to having a rich devotional life, we need to live a life of prayer if we are to experience revival.
The keynote quote for revival says: “A revival of true godliness among us is the greatest and most urgent of all our needs. To seek this should be our first work” (E.G. White, Review and Herald, 3/22/1887).
Here is a previously unpublished quote that relates to it:
The life of prayer is the strength of true godliness.
— E.G. White, Letter 28, 1907
We should zealously seek after this experience with God, for this is the very strength of our first and greatest need, being true godliness. Outward reforms will not hold or even be desired unless we have a revival of our prayer life. Then shouldn’t we seek this first before anything else? Will you have a life of unbroken communion with God? Then start right now and keep pleading with God for it until it is habitual, for it is the life of your soul.
How to Live the Life of Prayer
These are some of the practical ways to live a life of prayer that I’ve gleaned and am developing in my habits. I’m sure there are more than this, but here is a good start; and please comment if you have any other ideas:
- In everything give thanks.
1 Thessalonians 5:18; Psalm 113:3; 5MR 118.2
- In everything you do, send up petitions for wisdom and strength, consecrating it to God, and carry out every duty as an offering to God.
John 15:5; ST 8/7/1884, par. 13
- Stand in the gap and intercede. Pray for each person that you think about or engage with during the day. Focus on different people groups according to the days of the week. Here is an example: (1) brothers in Christ, (2) sisters in Christ, (3) family, (4) friends, (5) neighbors, (6) civil leaders and (7) spiritual leaders.
- Praise God—as you look for and live for His glory, especially when in hardship (viewing such times as opportunities to praise Him more).
Psalm 117; Psalm 140
- Claim Scriptures and promises, living by every word of God. Recite them off and on throughout the day.
Matthew 4:4; YI 7/28/1892, par. 4
(You might carry Scripture cards in your pocket and pull one out as you have free moments. We make cards from the Scriptures that stick out to us during our devotional readings.)
- Frequently call upon the Name of Jesus as you have need. His Name is above every name.
1 Corinthians 1:2; Romans 10:9; Philippians 2:9
- Say “I will” statements based on God’s Word.
Lt 14, 1884, par. 15-17
- When you are tempted or having a difficult time overcoming something, agonize with God in prayer, even if it means into the night or fasting.
Lt 7a, 1886, par. 12
- Sprinkle the Lord’s prayer throughout the day – a default prayer if you can think of nothing else, but a very glorious one.
Ms 222, 1902, par. 2; RH 1/3/1907, par. 5
- Spend time in nature, God’s handiwork, communing with Him there.
BEcho 8/7/1899, par. 4
- And when you’re not speaking with your mouth or mind in prayer, listen …
God will send you messages – not necessarily words, but often thoughts.
Meditate on those thoughts.
- And when you’re not speaking or listening, simply have an awareness of His presence and of His angels.
- Let your mind meditate on Christ on the Cross, Christ in the sanctuary, and heaven.
CE 57.1; 3SP 168.1; ST 12/8/1890, par. 3
- Discern the Lord’s body in every meal, partaking of His life that is in your food as a shadow of His spiritual life; this principle also applies to drinking water, breathing fresh air, and absorbing sunshine, since the life of God is in it all.
1 Corinthians 11:29; DA 660.3; Ed 197.5.
- Bless mankind and to be one with your brothers and sisters in Christ, thus fulfilling Christ’s prayer and will for you.
5T 633.3; 20MR 343.4; 15MR 88.2
This is all in addition to having formal prayers at your evening, morning, and preferably noon worship times, where you kneel and pray with uplifted hands and eyes, entering the Most Holy Place by faith to meet with the King of Kings, with all solemn reverence. During the day, it is instead like sending telegrams via the angels, thus not requiring you to pray in the same formal manner. Your prayers might often be very short sentences that you dart off, or even a few words you speak to your own soul in the spirit of prayer as the psalmist did.
You can pray to both God and His Son. We once read a prayer at the end of one of Sister White’s sermons and we noticed that she went back and forth between addressing the Father and the Son.
Let us practice, practice, practice in the fear of the LORD and for His honor and glory. This is something we must really strive for. He will help us, but only if we are putting effort into it, showing heaven that this is really the life we want to live; and it is to be our whole life – the life of prayer. I hope this will be a real blessing to you.
I’ve talked a lot about sacrificial love lately, as well as holiness, and the topic of prayer follows the same theme. This is the most important thing there is! And yet how much do we hear presentations on prayer, specifically the praying without ceasing experience? A revival of true godliness is our first and greatest need, and prayer is the strength of it, so should we not be striving for it and having this experience first before all else?
Prayer is not merely something you say to God and end with an Amen; prayer is a way of life. Sister White says to “let every breath be a prayer” (Ministry of Healing, p. 510). This obviously doesn’t mean saying something under every breath. Some of prayer is listening, as she says a couple paragraphs before that: “Christ is ever sending messages to those who listen for His voice.” Prayer also involves Christians to “set the Lord always before them.”
This is to be our unceasing life experience, as it is written, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).
In a nutshell, “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. There is necessity for diligence in prayer; let nothing hinder you” (Steps to Christ, p. 97). Also: “Prayer is the life of the soul, the foundation of spiritual growth” (Signs of the Times, 2/10/1890).
Bible study is not the foundation; it is prayer. Bible study is part of prayer. We don’t simply read the words of God, we pray them: Speaking aloud the words to claim them, speaking to God about them, and listening to God. Our evening and morning devotion times then set our prayer in motion for the rest of the time.
Prayer, especially of praise and thanksgiving, is described in the Bible as sacrifice: “By [Jesus] therefore let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is, the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His Name” (Hebrews 13:15).
Prayer is sacrifice because it means giving up all of our time and mental powers to be used for God’s glory from whatever we were used to doing before that. We have everything to gain from it, but it is still sacrifice and takes dedication and diligence. In light of all this, before we do a new task, we should offer it up to God in prayer, asking for His wisdom and strength to cheerfully do whatever it is with efficiency and excellence that He may be glorified.
Everything we do will thus have meaning and will be done unto the Lord in sacrificial love. With this mindset, with this life of prayer, there will be no thought of complaint, because our minds will not be on ourselves since we are doing everything for God, not ourselves or our boss or our ministry or our family. God alone is to be kept before us continually, and this love for God will flow out in love for others and they will see God’s character shining through us. This is also a life of faith, because while living in this world of things seen we are dwelling on the things unseen – God, the Lamb, the angels, and heaven. So, may our thoughts only run in heavenly channels through prayer. It is an amazing, gratifying life and our full potential will be realized.
A Final Word from the Spirit of Prophecy
I quoted a single sentence from this letter earlier; now I want to share with you the whole paragraph. Really absorb this divine counsel, friends.
A life of true piety is a life of constant usefulness. The work must be accomplished through faith and prayer. This is the subject that stirs my soul to its depths. The life of prayer is the strength of true godliness. Our faith must be revealed to the world as a living, acting faith, bringing in its train all the Christian graces. The great and glorious work committed to us in acting a part in the plan of salvation is wonderfully high and exalted. We cannot weigh its merits. We are to walk by faith; and as we strive to appreciate the possibilities, and realize the immensity of the plan of salvation, it is our privilege to pray with the apostle Paul, that we may be able to “comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of God, which passeth knowledge.” Lift Him up, the Man of Calvary. Let the mind dwell upon the beauties of His character, until by beholding, you become changed into the same image. A life of prayer and faith will lead us to speak of His praise and tell of His power.
— E.G. White, Letter 28, 1907