Letters and Manuscripts — Volume 14 (1899)


Ms 23, 1899

True Prayer


March 9, 1899

Portions of this manuscript are published in OHC 18, 36, 82, 130; 1MCP 262-263; 6BC 1058; 7BC 942-943; CTr 140; 12MR 255-256; 17MR 27. +Note

“And it came to pass, that as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.” And Jesus taught them to pray in the words of the Lord’s prayer. “When ye pray,” He said, “say, Our Father, which art in heaven, hallowed by thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. Give us day by day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins; for we also forgive every one that is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation; but deliver us from evil.” [Luke 11:1-4.] 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 1

Christ did not give this prayer for men to repeat as a form. He gave it as an illustration of what our prayers should be—simple, earnest, and comprehensive. Neglect prayer, and you cannot come to the light. This is the only way by which we can approach God, and every other way is not the way of the Lord. God’s way and will must be done. True prayer, offered in faith, is a power to the petitioner. By prayer, whether offered in the public assembly, or at the family altar, or in the desert, man places himself directly in the presence of God. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 2

Christ continues, “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight, and say unto him, Friend, lend me three loaves; for a friend of mine in his journey is come to me, and I have nothing to set before him? And he from within shall answer and say, Trouble me not; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed: I cannot rise and give thee. I say unto you, That though he will not rise and give him because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity he will rise and give as many as he needeth. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 3

“And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth, and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 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?” [Verses 5-13.] 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 4

The Lord does not say to us, If any man lack wisdom, let him go to his pastor, or his neighbor, and pray to them for help. Lay your burden upon finite men as weak as yourself, and seek their wisdom. He invites us, “Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me, ... and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” [Matthew 11:28-30.] “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering, for he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven of the wind and tossed. But let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord.” [James 1:5-7.] 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 5

Shall we not cease from man, and ask the Lord to give us His wisdom? We cannot obtain from our fellow men that help which cometh alone from God, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 6

The Lord invites us to ask of Him. Shall we turn from God’s wisdom, to ask of man? They may advise us to do what is best, but unless they receive their light from heaven, finite men can have no certain light to give us. The Lord is acquainted with our ignorance and darkness, and He bids us come unto Him, the source of all light and all wisdom. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 7

The prayer meeting, if conducted properly, may be a power for good. But in these assemblies, one man is not to pray all over the world. The long, spiritless prayers that are offered do not bring blessing to any; they are no strength to the praying one, and give no glory to God. In our prayers we are to come right to the point. We are to ask for the divine presence, and that the Lord will bless the preaching of the Word. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 8

In the place of bearing your perplexities to a brother or a minister, take them to the Lord in prayer. Do not place the minister where God should be, but make him a subject of your prayers. We have all erred on this point. The minister of Christ is like other men. True, he bears more sacred responsibilities than a common businessman, but he is not infallible. He is compassed with infirmity, and needs grace and divine enlightenment. He needs the heavenly unction to do his work with exactitude and success, giving full proof of his ministry. There are those who are ignorant of the way of life and salvation, and these will find in the godly minister one who will teach them what they shall do to be saved. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 9

Those who know how to pray, who know what are the invitations of the gospel of Christ, who know the immutability of His promises, show dishonor to God when they lay their burden upon finite men. It is right, always, to counsel together. It is right to converse together. It is right to make the difficulties that present themselves in any enterprise plain before your brethren and your minister. But do not so greatly dishonor God as to depend on man for wisdom. Seek God for the wisdom that cometh from above. Ask your fellow laborers to pray with you, and the Lord will fulfill His word, “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in their midst.” [Matthew 18:20.] 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 10

As a people we have become weak and dwarfed in religious growth, because we have sought the strength of finite, erring men, when we might have had the strength of an unerring, infinite God. The displeasure of God is upon the churches in every conference, because they do not come to Jesus and learn of Him, seeking for that wisdom which He alone can give. Ministers who have labored zealously in the work have gone prematurely to the grave, because church members have clung to them, making them responsible for the work which God alone could do. They have not been able to do all that should have been done to teach the people the way of the Lord, to point them to Him who is man’s sure Helper. Why do we not go to the mighty Helper, instead of to weak, erring man? Why do we place man where God should be? Let every church member closely examine his own heart, and see if he really has confidence in the promises of God? 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 11

The gift of God’s dear Son makes the promises of God ours of a surety. Christ clothed His divinity with humanity and paid the ransom for man, and He desires that man shall estimate the life thus provided for him by the infinite price paid. Man is to understand by an experimental knowledge the tender love of God for His creatures. God expressed this love in a wonderful way. He could not make man a partaker of the divine nature until His only begotten Son, One equal with Himself, should stoop to human nature and reach man where he was. God did not withhold His Son. In Christ humanity touched humanity, while divinity laid hold upon humanity. In Him man becomes a child of God, an heir to all the treasures of heaven. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 12

Before the humblest is opened the promises of the Word of God. God declares, “If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth to all men liberally and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him.” [James 1:5.] He will never be sent away empty. And the man who lives by every word of God will improve in mental and moral capabilities. He will have a clearer understanding than he manifested before he opened his heart to the entrance of the Word of life. Connected by faith with the living Source of wisdom and knowledge, the mental powers will grow and expand. While the powers of the intellect were under the sway of Satan, the whole man was deformed. But when the power of the truth is brought into the heart, it influences the entire being. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 13

It is the absence of the grace of Christ in the heart that causes men to make wrong decisions. It leads those who have had light and rejected it to regard light as darkness. They call error truth and truth error, because they walk in the sparks of their own kindling. God declares that such shall lie down in sorrow. The reception of the word of God in sincerity and simplicity will renew the mind and awaken it to understand clearly the Word of God. The blindness passes away, the darkness is removed, and the true light shines forth. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 14

Promises are estimated by the truth of the one who makes them. Many men make promises only to break them, to mock the heart that trusted in them. Those who lean upon such men lean upon broken reeds. But God is behind the promises He makes. He is ever mindful of His covenant, and His truth endureth to all generations. “Blessed be the Lord, that hath given rest unto his people Israel, according to all that he promised: there hath not failed one word of all his good promises which he promised by the hand of Moses his servant.” [1 Kings 8:56.] 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 15

The Lord is always the same. He keepeth truth forever, and there is no unfaithfulness in Him. We have confidence in our fellow men; then why are we so apt to distrust the promises of God? Christ declared that heaven and earth should pass away, but not one word of God should fail. Why then do we not honor the Lord by believing His Word, which is not Yea and Nay, but Yea and Amen in Christ Jesus? Why do we express our wants to men, and thus say, I can trust my fellow men, but I cannot trust the Lord? Why do we not come to our heavenly Father as a child comes to an earthly parent, and ask Him for the things we need? Christ says, “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.” [Luke 11:13.] 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 16

Do not let us grieve the Spirit of God any more. Do not let us show distrust in His Word, for He alone is to be depended upon. He is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords. He has a mighty arm; strong is His hand, and high is His right hand. He is a mighty God, who is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we can ask or think. He is wonderful in counsel, the only wise God. If He be for us, who can be against us? Then trust ye in the Lord forever; for in the Lord Jehovah is everlasting strength. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 17


The Lord has revealed the power of His Word to His people in the past as He did to ancient Israel. But we have been pained to see men and women who were resolved not to see the evidences of truth. How difficult it is for the truth to make a favorable impression on the mind when that truth is not in harmony with men’s ideas. There are few who will investigate the Word of God with that spirit that led the noble Bereans to compare Scripture with Scripture. When will those men in responsible positions recognize the voice of the true Shepherd, and follow Him rather than a stranger? 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 18

If those who are still on the stage of action, who have had an experience in the dealings of God in the rise and progress of the work, would stand as did Joshua to strengthen the faith of the people of God, by reviewing past blessings and mercies a great deal more, they themselves would be blessed, and they would prove a blessing to those who have not had this experience. If they would recount the sacrifices made by those who led out in the work, and would keep before the people the simplicity of the early workers, and the power of God that was manifested to keep the work free from error and delusion and extravagance, they would have a molding influence upon the workers at this time. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 19

When we lose sight of what the Lord has done in the past for His people, we lose sight of His present working in their behalf. Those who enter the work now know comparatively nothing of the self-denial and self-sacrifice of those upon whom the Lord laid the burden of the work at its commencement. This should be told them again and again. Those who engage in the work now will need to carry it forward in the same humble spirit, with the same self-sacrificing principles that have characterized the true worker in the past. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 20

A stern conflict is in progress between the Prince of life and the prince of darkness, and this battle calls for constant vigilance on the part of devoted workers. There must be no indolence, no sleepy watchmen on the walls of Zion. The workers in the cause of the Lord must allow God to choose His own instruments for the work He has to do. If men refuse to accept the ways of the Lord, if they resist for any cause the light sent them by heaven, they will be found among the workers of iniquity. Those who, after serving on the side of Christ, take this position, exert an influence as much more dangerous than the one who has never professed Christ as his light and office of trust have been greater. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 21

When these see the error they have made, they realize that they have not had a right spirit, that they have tried to kill that which the Lord would have live, let them honestly and frankly acknowledge their error. A review of the past will be highly beneficial to such men. When they humble their hearts before God as did David, confessing that they have erred, they have the sure Word of God that they will find pardon. But if they refuse to acknowledge their mistakes, if they refuse to seek pardon, their sins stand registered against them, to come up against them in the day of judgment. In that day these men will not stand in a favorable light before the great Intercessor. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 22

Those who have laid stumbling blocks before the inexperienced who have clouded the minds of those who have not had a personal knowledge of the Lord’s dealings with His people in the past, who have opened the door of temptation through which doubts and questions have come in, and have left the impression upon minds that the testimonies of the Spirit of God are not reliable, can only help to undo their work by making their confession as full, decided, and broad as their influence has been by reaching those upon whom they have brought confusion and uncertainty by resistance of the Spirit of God. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 23

At the present time, God’s Spirit is being grieved. Satan has been encouraged in his special work for this time. Those who have erred in the past, and have not humbled themselves to fully confess their wrongs and make them right, will continue to move in their own spirit. They will call truth error and error truth. These men will eventually be found on Satan’s side of the controversy. The Lord has declared to me that thus it will be. Our God is a jealous God; He will not be trifled with. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 24

If men would make straight paths for their feet lest the lame be turned out of the way, they will confess their mistakes and sins. Then they will see that the hand of God is leading His people in the right way. They will see His wisdom overrule even [their] mistakes and errors for their own good and for the good of God’s people as a whole. When they have the heavenly anointing, they will see the dangerous path they have entered upon when Satan had power over their minds and hearts. They will see that if they do not work in harmony with God their influence will be exerted against God’s work and His workmen. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 25

As God in faithful in His promise, so also will He be faithful in his threatenings. Brethren, I may be silent in the grave before these warnings from God may have the desired effect upon your minds and hearts; but in the words of Paul I say to you, “Knowing the terrors of the Lord we persuade men;” everywhere to repent. [2 Corinthians 5:11.] “Choose ye this day whom ye will serve.” [Joshua 24:15.] 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 26

What a humiliation it was to Paul to know that all the time he was using his powers against the truth, thinking he was doing God’s service, he was persecuting Christ. When the Saviour revealed himself to Paul in the bright beams of his glory, he was filled with abhorrence for his work and for himself. The power of Christ’s glory might have destroyed him, but Paul was a prisoner of hope. He was made physically blind by the glory of the presence of Him whom he had blasphemed, but it was that he might have spiritual sight, that he might be awakened from the lethargy that had stupefied and deadened his perceptions. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 27

His conscience, aroused, now worked with self-accusing energy. The zeal of his work, his earnest resistance of the light shining upon him through God’s messengers now brought condemnation upon his soul, and he was filled with bitter remorse. He no longer saw himself as righteous, but condemned by the law in thought, in spirit, and in deeds. He saw himself a sinner, utterly lost, without the Saviour he had been persecuting. In the days and nights of his blindness he had time for reflection, and he cast himself all helpless and hopeless upon Christ, the only One who could pardon him and clothe him with righteousness. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 28

This wonderful example I present before you my brethren. You have guilt upon your souls. You have been doing as did Paul, despising the messages and the messengers God has sent for the benefit and salvation of his people. You have intercepted your finite capabilities, entrusted to you by God, to make of none effect his work. The same blindness and deception that was upon Paul is upon you. You need this work of repentance and forgiveness as verily as did Paul, and unless you have it, you cannot be saved. To do as you have done, notwithstanding the light in warnings and reproofs given you from heaven, will leave you in greater darkness than was Paul. O that the converting power of God might come to your souls, and you like Paul pass through the deep work of repentance. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 29

From a proud Pharisee who thought himself justified by the law, Paul was changed to a humble supplicant for mercy. He felt the far-reaching claims of the law of God take hold upon the most secret things and reach even to the thoughts and emotions of his sin-corrupted heart. He realized that he had been breaking the law, while he flattered himself that he was keeping it. Writing of this later he says, “I was alive without the law once, but when the commandment came (home to his conscience) sin revived, and I died.” [Romans 7:9.] His past life he saw with eyes anointed by the grace of Christ. Did Paul then pass right on, as though he had done no wrong? What was the result of the divine enlightenment? “I, Paul, died.” Was not the sword of the Spirit a discerner of the thoughts and intents and purposes of his heart? 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 30

It was a hard struggle for Paul, who could say of himself as far as outward acts were concerned, “As touching the law, blameless” [Philippians 3:6], to come to the place where he saw himself, with all his supposed goodness swept away, where, having offended in one point, he was a transgressor before God. It was a severe struggle for him to give up his imagined goodness and supposed perfection, to be saved by the One whose name he had despised, and upon whom he had poured his contempt. But God designed that Paul should see that his good name, his virtue, were as nothing, and that he must repent and confess his sins, and seek pardon from Christ for the work he had done in warring against the Spirit of God and the messengers He had sent. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 31

This is the only way by which those who have had great light, great opportunities, but who have closed their eyes lest they should see and be converted, can have pardon written against their names. There is no way provided by which men entrusted with large responsibilities can commit errors, and then pass over them lightly. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 32

These mistakes, through blindness to the truth, through a refusal to acknowledge the way in which God works through His appointed agencies, leaves a mold upon other minds, and thus a channel is opened through which Satan can convey his doubts and questionings to those who are weak in moral power, those who look to the men they regard as pious, for example. These sins stand registered against God’s people in the books of heaven. The only way for them to do is to send their sins beforehand to judgment by coming to Christ with the humility and simplicity of a little child. They must confess their sins, else they will be left to hardness of heart. The light they refuse will become to them blacker than midnight darkness. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 33

The reasoning powers of men, given them as a holy trust from God, are being perverted. They view everything in a distorted light. That which might be to them peace and joy in the Holy Ghost appears inconsistent and unreasonable, and they put on the armor of Satan to war against anything of this character that may arise. The testimony of the Spirit of God is no more, nor half as much to them, as the word of men, because they are too blind to discern truth from error. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 34

Paul declared, “When the commandment came, sin revived, and I died.” [Romans 7:9.] The tongue of him who had blasphemed the name of Christ, the only name given under heaven whereby men may be saved, was converted, and became eloquent in sounding forth the praises of Him who had called him out of darkness into His marvelous light. O, that the same power might go forth to impress and soften and subdue hearts today by its transforming energy. Then there would be something done in sincerity and in truth. Wrongs would not be varnished over. Open-hearted confessions, just such as you have advised your brethren to make, just such repentance and confession of wrong as the Lord has directed those who have committed errors to make, will be heard. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 35

No one is safe unless he walks in humility of mind and true contrition of soul, unless he repents of the sins he has committed. Men cannot pass over this matter in silence and still receive the favors of God. True greatness in the sight of the Lord is only to be obtained by becoming as a little child, not in understanding, but in spirit. The humble heart will not think confession beneath him. He will not feel it a disgrace to confess if he has in any way, even in thought, hurt his brother or hindered God’s work through him. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 36

The mission God gives to His workers He expects them to respect. But in the experience of the past two years, a spirit has been manifested, a course of action pursued, which has been more than displeasing to God. He has abhorred their course of error. The messengers God has seen fit to send were not infallible. They were weak, erring men; but the Lord wrought through them as they gave themselves up to His service. They gave the message with ability and earnestness. The truth spoken was adapted to the necessities of God’s people; evidences of truth were given in clear lines, and adapted to the wants of the church, as only divine Inspiration could make them. The reason that the Word did not have its designed effect on the minds and hearts of the hearers was not because of lack of evidence from the Word of God to sustain the word spoken, for link after link was produced until the chain of evidence was complete. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 37

Some of the hearers were convinced that this heaven-sent message was for them, but their hearts were filled with prejudice and jealousy and evil thinking, and would not accept it. They were not willing to admit the evidence, and tried to make the Bible sustain their evidence instead of bringing their ideas to the Bible. So great is the opposition of the natural heart to the truth, that when men have once combatted it, they will hold to their own ideas. The plan of salvation, which they ought to know, they are not humble enough to acknowledge. They have seen the fruits, they have witnessed all the proof they will ever have of the power of the Holy Spirit, but like the Jews, they catch up some word spoken, and take offense at it. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 38

The Jews watched Christ, that they might catch some word from His lips at which they could take offense. Has not the same work been done by men today? They have exerted an influence over the minds of men who ought to look to God in the place of hanging their souls on finite men. Cut yourselves loose from the work of God. When His wisdom is not given, you will become too blind to discern any change, too self-sufficient to feel the absence of the Sun of Righteousness. You ask, What does Sister White mean by placing us in such a position? It is not Sister White who places you in this unfavorable light. You have placed yourself there by your own resistance of the deep movings of the Spirit of God. You know not that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 39

The Lord must be among us, else no arguments we can use, no power of human intelligence or eloquence, can convert the soul. Some will acknowledge the truth, some will be converted; but men need not take the credit for it, for it is not so written in the books of heaven. God has sent other humble instrumentalities to work, and it is the humble doer of the Word in whose crown the stars will shine. There is a divine agency at work in every assembly to draw the souls who are seeking for light to the Source of all light. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 40

The Lord knows who are these souls. He hears their prayers and makes them the recipients of truth. They do not require the evidence of miracles as did the Pharisees. They acknowledge the light as it comes to them. The Spirit of God sets home the truth with power to the hearts of all who do not close the door against it. Pride of position and intellect lead men to harden their hearts and reject the precious message sent, which would make them wise unto salvation and would give to their teaching the power that the Lord desires it to have. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 41

Christ rejoiced in spirit because those things, which men refused because they thought themselves wise, were clearly comprehended by those in humble stations and of far less experience—those who might be called babes in comparison with the men who rejected the light. The man who feels secure in his knowledge must become as a little child in humility and simplicity of spirit, else he will lose eternal lie. He who has intellect should remember that it is God’s gift. However distinguished he may be, there will be no time in his experience when, if he would have the spirit, the power and grace of Christ, he will not have to come to Jesus as humbly as any poor sinner, with the humility of a child. He must ask and be willing to learn the lessons that God has for him to learn. Those who come to Christ in this way will constantly say, “He must increase, and I must decrease.” [John 3:30.] 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 42

What words can my pen trace that will arouse our ministering brethren to a sense of the mighty responsibilities that rest upon them? How fearful their work if, while professing to be watchmen on the walls of Zion, they lay stumbling blocks in the way of their less experienced brethren, and lead them to question the Word of God and doubt the precious message He sends. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 43

Christ never promised success to His disciples, only as they should place themselves under the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness. They were not authorized to preach a single discourse except under the influence of the Holy Spirit. They had strict orders to tarry in Jerusalem until they were imbued with power from on high. Is this considered essential for the success of the worker today? We have had sermonizing and theorizing until the churches are ready to die. The Holy Ghost must come upon the people, and then the truth will be a power, sanctifying the soul of the receiver. 14LtMs, Ms 23, 1899, par. 44