Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 7

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Ms 26a, 1892

Prayer for the Sick

NP

August 5, 1892

Formerly Undated Ms 32. Portions of this manuscript are published in 1SM 379-381; SpM 5-7. +Note

During my sickness I have thought much in reference in praying for the sick, and I believe that if prayer should be offered for the sick at any place, and it certainly should, it should be offered at the sanitarium for the relief or restoration of the suffering. But in this matter of praying for the sick, I could not move in exactly the same lines as have <some of> my brethren. I have been considering many things that have been presented to [me] in <the past in> reference to this subject. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 1

Suppose that twenty men and women should present themselves as subjects for prayer at some of our camp meetings. This would not be unlikely, for those who are suffering will do everything in their power to <obtain> relief and to regain health. Of these twenty, few have regarded the light on the subject of purity and health reform. They have neglected to practice right principles in eating and drinking, and in taking care of their bodies, and <some of> those who are married have formed gross habits and indulged in unholy practices, while [of] those who are unmarried <some> have been reckless of life and health. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 2

In clear rays of light has shown upon them; but they have not had respect unto the light nor have they walked circumspectly; yet they solicit the prayers of God’s people, and call for the elders of the church <to pray for them.> Should they regain the blessing of health, many of them would pursue the same course of heedless transgression of nature’s laws; <unless enlightened and thoroughly transformed,> they solicit the prayers of God’s people and call for the elders of the church. <But little> is known of their home or private life. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 3

Sin has brought many of them where they are—to a state of feebleness of mind and debility of body. Shall prayer be offered to the God of heaven for His healing power to come upon them then and there, without specifying any condition <or without any preparation for such a work?> I say, No, decidedly, No. What then shall be done? <Take them apart, talk with them privately and find if there is not something in the way of them that must be seen and confessed. Have everything clear and straight before God. Then> present their cases before Him who knows every individual by name. Present their cases to Him who has so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. <Let not this sacred, holy work be performed in a careless, haphazard manner.> 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 4

Present these thoughts to the persons who come asking for your prayers, “We are human, we cannot read the heart, or know the secrets of your life. These are known only to yourself and God. If you now repent of your sins, if you can see that in any instance you have walked contrary to the light given you of God, and have neglected to give honor to the body, the temple of God; but by <any> wrong habits have degraded the body <which is> Christ’s property, make confession of these things to God. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 5

Unless you are wrought upon by the Spirit of God in a special manner to confess your sins of a private nature, do not breathe <them> to any human soul. Christ is your Redeemer, He will take no advantage of your humiliating confessions. If you have sin of a private character, confess it to Christ who is the only mediator between God and man. “If any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” [1 John 2:1.] 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 6

If you have sinned by withholding from God His own <in tithes and offerings,> confess your guilt <to God and to the church,> and heed the injunction that has been given you, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open to you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” [Malachi 3:10.] <The blessing of God is withdrawn from many because they are robbing God in tithes and offerings.> 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 7

Praying for the sick is a most solemn thing, and we should not enter upon this work in any careless, <hasty> way. Examination should be made as to whether those who would be blessed with health have indulged in evil speaking, alienation, and dissension. Have they sowed discord among the brethren and sisters in the church? If these things have been committed they should be confessed before God and before the church. When wrongs have been confessed, the subjects for prayer may be presented before God in earnestness and in faith, as the Spirit of God may move upon you. But <it is not always safe to> ask for unconditional healing. Let your prayer include this thought, “Lord thou knowest every secret of the soul. Thou art acquainted with these persons, for Jesus their Advocate, gave His life for them. He loves them better than we possibly can. If therefore it is for Thy glory, and the good of these afflicted ones to raise them up to health, we ask in the name of Jesus that health may be given them at this time.” In a petition of this kind, no lack of faith is manifested. <There are cases that are clear, and the Lord works with His divine power decidedly in their restoration. The will of God is evidenced too plainly to be misunderstood.> 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 8

The Lord “doth not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men.” [Lamentations 3:33.] “Like as a Father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear him, for he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust.” [Psalm 103:13, 14.] He knows our heart, for He reads every secret of the soul. He knows whether or not those for whom petitions are offered would be able to endure the trial and test that would come upon them if they lived. He knows the end from the beginning. Many will be laid away to sleep in Jesus before the fiery ordeal of the time of trouble shall come upon our world. This is another reason why we should always say after our earnest petition, “Nevertheless not my will, but thine, O Lord, be done.” [Luke 22:42.] Such a petition will never be registered in heaven as a faithless prayer. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 9

The apostle was bidden to write, “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” [Revelation 14:13.] From this we can see that every one is not to be raised up, and if they are not raised to health, they should not be judged as <not having faith.> If Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, prayed, “O my Father, if it be possible let this cup pass from me:” and added, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt” [Matthew 26:39], how very appropriate is it for poor finite mortals to make the same surrender to the wisdom and will of God. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 10

In praying for the sick we are to pray that, if it be God’s will, they may be raised to health, but if not, that He will give them His grace to comfort, His presence to sustain them in their suffering. Many who should get their house in order, neglect to do it when they have hope that they will be raised to health in answer to prayer. Buoyed up by false hope, they do not feel the need of saying words of exhortation and counsel to their children, parents or friends; and it is a great misfortune. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 11

Accepting the assurance that they would be healed when prayed for, they dare not make a reference as to how their property shall be disposed of, how their family is to be cared for, or express any wish concerning matters of which they would speak if they thought they should be removed by death. In this way disasters are brought upon the family and friends, for many things that should be understood are left unmentioned because they fear it would be a denial of their faith. Believing they will be raised to health by prayer, they fail to make use of hygienic measures which are within their power to make use of, fearing it would be a denial of their faith. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 12

I thank the Lord that it is our privilege to co-operate with Him in the work of restoration, availing ourselves of all possible advantages in <the> recovery of health. It is no denial of our faith to place ourselves in the condition most favorable to recovery. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 13

The use of drugs has not been specified as in the Lord’s order; but He has given special light concerning one health institutions, directing His people to practice and inculcate hygienic principles <which should be taught> [to] those who are in ignorance as to how to live in accordance with pure principles, practicing those things that will preserve the body in a healthful condition. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 14

Man is to co-operate with God, employing every power according to his God-given ability. He is not to be ignorant as to what are right practices in eating and drinking, and in all <his> habits of life. The Lord designs that His human agent shall act as a rational, accountable being in every respect. But though light upon this matter has been shining upon the pathway of our people for nearly thirty years, yet <a large number> are far behind the light. <Our> churches are ignorant of hygienic principles and practices. We ought to be far advanced in wisdom, understanding what is the will of the Lord. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 15

We ought to know how to keep our minds pure and our bodies in a healthful condition. But though we have sinned, we may come to Christ in penitence and find pardon. We cannot afford to neglect one ray of light God has given. To be sluggish in our practice of those things which require diligence is to commit sin. The human agent is to co-operate with God and keep under those passions which <should> be in subjection. To do this he must be unwearied in his prayers to God, ever obtaining grace to control his spirit, temper and actions. Through the imparted grace of Christ he may be enabled to overcome. To be an overcomer means more than many suppose it means. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 16

The Spirit of God will answer the cry of every penitent <heart,> for repentance is the gift of God, and <an> evidence that Christ is drawing man to Himself. We can no more repent of sin without Christ, than we can be pardoned without Christ, and yet it is a humiliation to man with his human passion and <pride> to go to Jesus straightway, <believing and trusting Him> for everything which he needs. There are <Satanic> agencies that oppose the work of Christ and urge men to indulgence in evil, <but> if we would see heaven, we must abase self to the dust, and realizing our own sinfulness and unworthiness, seek the merit and grace of Christ. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 17

Let no one present the idea that man has little or nothing to do in the great work of overcoming, for God does nothing for man without his co-operation. Neither say that after you have done all you can on your part, Jesus will <then come in and> help you. Christ has said, “Without me ye can do nothing.” [John 15:5.] From first to last man is to be a laborer together with God. Unless the Holy Spirit works upon the human heart, at every step we shall stumble and fall. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 18

Man’s efforts <alone> are nothing but worthlessness, but co-operation with Christ means a victory. Of ourselves we have no power to repent of sin. Unless we accept divine aid, we cannot take the first steps toward the Saviour. He says, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end” in the salvation of every soul. [Revelation 22:13.] But though Christ is everything, we are to inspire every man to unwearied diligence. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 19

We are to strive, wrestle, agonize, watch, pray, else we shall be overcome of the wily foe, <for> all <power and grace with which we can do this comes from God.> But we are to trust in Him who is able to save to the uttermost all who come unto God by Him. Never leave the impression on the mind that there is little or nothing to do on the part of man; but rather teach <men> to co-operate with God, that they may be successful in overcoming. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 20

Let no one say that your works have nothing to do with your rank and position before God. In the judgment the sentence pronounced is <in> accordance to what has been done, or to what has been left undone. “Then shall the king say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world, For I was hungry and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink, I was a stranger, and ye took me in, naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me ... Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren ye have done it unto me.” [Matthew 25:34-36, 40.] 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 21

Effort and labor is required on the part of the receiver of God’s grace, for it is the fruit that makes manifest what is the character of the tree. Although the good works of man are of no more value without faith in Jesus than was the offering of Cain, yet covered with the merit of Christ they testify [to] the worthiness of the doer to inherit eternal life. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 22

That which is considered morality in the world does not reach the divine standard and has no <more> merit before heaven than had the offering of Cain. “Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the Lord ... But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. And the Lord said unto Cain, why art thou wroth? And why is thy countenance fallen? If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? And if thou did not well, sin lieth at the door.” [Genesis 4:3, 5-7.] Without acknowledging the blood of Jesus, no offering of man can be acceptable before heaven. If Can had acknowledged the merit of Christ; his offering would have been beautiful before God, and valuable in His sight. God would have accepted his sacrifice. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 23

Let my brethren be very careful how they present the subject of faith and works before the people, lest minds become confused. The people need to be urged to diligence in good works. They should be shown how to be successful, how to be purified, and their offerings <may be> fragrant before God. It is by virtue of the blood of Christ. Messages of a decided character must be born to the people. Men must go forth reproving, rebuking every manner of evil. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 24

If there is given to the angel of any church a commission like unto that given to the angel of the church of Ephesus, let the message be heard through human agents rebuking carelessness, backsliding and sin, that the people may be brought to repentance and confession of sin. Never seek to cover sin, for in the message of rebuke Christ is to be proclaimed as the first and the last, he who is all in all to the soul. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 25

His power awaits the demand of those who would overcome. The reprover is to animate his hearers so that they shall strive for the mastery. He is to encourage them to struggle for deliverance from every sinful practice to be free from every corrupt habit, <even> if <his denial of self is like taking> the right eye, or separating the right arm from the body. No concession or compromise is to be made to evil habits or sinful practices. 7LtMs, Ms 26a, 1892, par. 26