Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 1 (1844 - 1868)


Lt 12, 1865


Janesville, Wisconsin

June 15, 1865

Previously unpublished. +Note

In your letter to me some weeks since, you inquire if we have any evidence in the Word of God for public prayer. You also inquire if I have ever seen in vision anything on that point. 1LtMs, Lt 12, 1865, par. 1

I answer, I have been shown definitely upon the point of vocal, public prayer. It was shown me that as Moses entered the Tabernacle he prayed vocally to God, and the people heard him in the door of their tents. God answered Moses in an audible voice. Exodus 33:11. 1LtMs, Lt 12, 1865, par. 2

After the temple was erected Solomon prayed vocally, kneeling upon a brazen scaffold in the presence and hearing of the people of Israel. The words of Solomon are given in the Bible. After the prayer ended, the Lord sent fire from heaven and consumed the burnt offering. 2 Chronicles 6. “The Lord appeared to Solomon by night, and said unto him, I have heard thy prayer.” [2 Chronicles 7:12.] 1LtMs, Lt 12, 1865, par. 3

Daniel prayed vocally in his chamber with his windows open toward heaven. The people could bring no evidence that his prayer was offered to the God of heaven only as they heard the words which he used. 1LtMs, Lt 12, 1865, par. 4

Christ gave His disciples instruction in regard to prayer. He saw the Pharisees’ course of praying in the synagogue and market places, recounting their good deeds and the alms that they had done. This had some influence upon His disciples. He would warn His followers against the hypocritical prayers of these Pharisees, who recounted a whole list of their good works exalting themselves. Jesus gave His disciples instruction to enter into their closet and pray to their Father in heaven. He gave them the substance of the prayer that they should use, exalting God and continually impressing upon man not some great and good deeds which they had done but their own dependence and weakness, and exalting God as their all, the beginning and the end. 1LtMs, Lt 12, 1865, par. 5

Nothing in this instruction given by Christ to His disciples forbids public prayer, but rebukes the hypocritical, self-exalting prayers of the Pharisees. They have their reward, says Christ. They thus pray to obtain the praise of men. This they have, and that is all their prayers amount to, for God heareth them not. 1LtMs, Lt 12, 1865, par. 6

Then Christ exhorts His disciples to cultivate what the Pharisees entirely neglected, that is, secret prayer. He exalts this Christian privilege of duty telling His disciples that their Father which should hear their humble prayers in secret would reward them openly; that if at the very moment when praying in secret they felt that no special change or immediate answer, yet while about their business transactions, while brought into peculiar trying positions, at the very time when he needs special help from God, he will receive an answer to the prayer offered to God in secret from the humble heart. 1LtMs, Lt 12, 1865, par. 7