The Review and Herald

867/1902

February 9, 1897

The Prayer That God Accepts

EGW

Jesus taught his disciples to pray, and he often urged upon them the necessity of prayer. He did not bid them to study books to learn a form of prayer. They were not to offer prayer to men, but to make their requests known to God. He taught them that the prayer which God accepts is the simple, earnest petition from a soul that feels its need; and he promised to send the Holy Spirit to indite their prayers. RH February 9, 1897, par. 1

God invites us to come to him with our burden of guilt and our heart sorrows. Sin fills us with fear of God; when we have sinned, we try to hide ourselves from him. But whatever our sin, God bids us come unto him through Jesus Christ. It is only by taking our sins to God that we can be freed from them. Cain, under the rebuke of God, acknowledged his guilt in killing Abel; but he fled away from God, as if he could thus escape from his sin. Had he fled to God with his burden of guilt, he would have been forgiven. The prodigal son, realizing his guilt and wretchedness, said, “I will arise and go to my father.” He confessed his sin, and was taken back to his father's heart. RH February 9, 1897, par. 2

If we would offer acceptable prayer, there is a work to be done in confessing our sins to one another. If I have sinned against my neighbor in word or action, I should make confession to him. If he has wronged me, he should confess to me. So far as is possible, the one who has wronged another is to make restitution. Then in contrition he is to confess the sin to God, whose law has been transgressed. In sinning against our brother, we sin against God, and we must seek pardon from him. Whatever our sin, if we but repent and believe in the atoning blood of Christ, we shall be pardoned. RH February 9, 1897, par. 3

Daniel's example of prayer and confession is given for our instruction and encouragement. For nearly seventy years, Israel had been in captivity. The land which God had chosen for his own possession was given into the hands of the heathen. The beloved city, the recipient of heaven's light, once the joy of the whole earth, was now despised and degraded. The temple that had contained the ark of God's covenant and the cherubim of glory overshadowing the mercy seat, was in ruins. Its very site was desecrated by unholy feet. Faithful men who knew of the former glory were filled with anguish at the desolation of the holy house that had distinguished Israel as God's chosen people. These men had been witnesses to the denunciations of God because of the sins of his people. They had been witnesses to the fulfilment of this word. They had been witnesses also to the promises of his favor if Israel would return to God, and walk circumspectly before him. Aged, gray-headed pilgrims went up to Jerusalem to pray amid its ruins. They kissed its stones, and wet them with their tears, as they entreated the Lord to have mercy on Zion, and cover her with the glory of his righteousness. Daniel knew that the appointed time for Israel's captivity was nearly ended; but he did not feel that because God had promised to deliver them, they themselves had no part to act. With fasting and contrition he sought the Lord, confessing his own sins and the sins of the people. RH February 9, 1897, par. 4

He said: “All Israel have transgressed thy law, even by departing, that they might not obey thy voice; therefore the curse is poured upon us, and the oath that is written in the law of Moses the servant of God, because we have sinned against him. And he hath confirmed his words, which he spake against us, and against our judges that judged us, by bringing upon us a great evil: for under the whole heaven hath not been done as hath been done upon Jerusalem. As it is written in the law of Moses, All this evil is come upon us: yet made we not our prayer before the Lord our God, that we might turn from our iniquities, and understand thy truth.” RH February 9, 1897, par. 5

There had been a kind of prayer offered,—commonplace, self-justifying prayer,—but not the prayer that comes from a broken heart and contrite spirit. Daniel makes no plea on the ground of his own goodness; but he says: “O my God, incline thine ear, and hear; open thine eyes, and behold our desolations, and the city which is called by thy name: for we do not present our supplications before thee for our righteousness, but for thy great mercies.” His intensity of desire makes him earnest and fervent. He continues: “O Lord, hear; O Lord, forgive; O Lord, harken and do; defer not, for thine own sake, O my God; for thy city and thy people are called by thy name.” RH February 9, 1897, par. 6

This prayer was the work of the Holy Spirit. It was heard in heaven. “Whiles I was speaking and praying,” Daniel says, “and confessing my sin and the sin of my people Israel, and presenting my supplication before the Lord my God for the holy mountain of my God; yea, whiles I was speaking in prayer, even the man Gabriel, ... being caused to fly swiftly, touched me about the time of the evening oblation. And he informed me, and talked with me, and said, O Daniel, I am now come forth to give thee skill and understanding. At the beginning of thy supplications the commandment came forth, and I am come to show thee; for thou art greatly beloved.” RH February 9, 1897, par. 7

What a prayer was that which came forth from the lips of Daniel! What humbling of soul it reveals! The warmth of heavenly fire was recognized in the words that were going upward to God. Heaven responded to that prayer by sending its messenger to Daniel. In this our day, prayers offered in like manner will prevail with God. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” As in ancient times, when prayer was offered, fire descended from heaven, and consumed the sacrifice upon the altar, so in answer to our prayers, the heavenly fire will come into our souls. The light and power of the Holy Spirit will be ours. RH February 9, 1897, par. 8

Daniel's heart was burdened for the people of God, for the city and temple that were laid waste. His deepest interest was for the honor of God and the prosperity of Israel. It was this that moved him to seek God with prayer and fasting and deep humiliation. Brethren in responsible positions in the Lord's work for this time, have not we as great need to call upon God as had Daniel? I address those who believe that we are living in the very last period of this earth's history. I entreat you to take upon your own souls a burden for our churches, our schools, and our institutions. That God who heard Daniel's prayer will hear ours when we come to him in contrition. Our necessities are as urgent, our difficulties are as great, and we need to have the same intensity of purpose, and in faith roll our burden upon the great Burden-bearer. There is need for hearts to be as deeply moved in our time as in the time when Daniel prayed. RH February 9, 1897, par. 9

We have only one channel of approach to God. Our prayers can come to him through one name only,—that of the Lord Jesus our advocate. His Spirit must inspire our petitions. No strange fire was to be used in the censers that were waved before God in the sanctuary. So the Lord himself must kindle in our hearts the burning desire, if our prayers are acceptable to him. The Holy Spirit within must make intercessions for us, with groanings that cannot be uttered. RH February 9, 1897, par. 10

A deep sense of our need, and a great desire for the things for which we ask, must characterize our prayers, else they will not be heard. But we are not to become weary, and cease our petitions because the answer is not immediately received. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.” The violence here meant is a holy earnestness, such as Jacob manifested. We need not try to work ourselves up into an intense feeling; but calmly, persistently, we are to press our petitions at the throne of grace. Our work is to humble our souls before God, confessing our sins, and in faith drawing nigh unto God. The Lord answered the prayer of Daniel, not that Daniel might glorify himself, but that the blessing might reflect glory to God. It is the design of God to reveal himself in his providence and in his grace. The object of our prayers must be the glory of God, not the glorification of ourselves. RH February 9, 1897, par. 11

When we see ourselves weak, ignorant, and helpless, as we really are, we shall come before God as humble suppliants. It is ignorance of God and of Christ that makes any soul proud and self-righteous. The infallible indication that a man knows not God, is found in the fact that he feels that in himself he is great or good. Pride of heart is always associated with ignorance of God. It is the light from God that discovers our darkness and destitution. When the divine glory was revealed to Daniel, he exclaimed, “My comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength.” The moment the humble seeker sees God as he is, that moment he will have the same view of himself that Daniel had. There will be no lifting up of the soul unto vanity, but a deep sense of the holiness of God and of the justice of his requirements. The fruit of such an experience will be manifested in a life of self-denial and self-sacrifice. RH February 9, 1897, par. 12

Brethren, the Lord calls for copartnership in his work. He desires us to enlist our interests in his cause, as Daniel did. We should receive great benefits from a study of the book of Daniel in connection with the Revelation. Daniel studied the prophecies. He earnestly sought to know their meaning. He prayed and fasted for heavenly light. And the glory of God was revealed to him in even greater measure than he could endure. We are in equal need of divine illumination. God has called us to give the last message of warning to the world. There will be voices heard on every side to divert the attention of God's people with new theories. We need to give the trumpet a certain sound. We do not half realize what is before us. If the books of Daniel and the Revelation were studied with earnest prayer, we should have a better knowledge of the perils of the last days, and would be better prepared for the work before us—we should be prepared to unite with Christ and to work in his lines. RH February 9, 1897, par. 13

God has honored us by showing how greatly he values us. We are bought with a price, even the precious blood of the Son of God. When his heritage shall conscientiously follow the word of the Lord, his blessing will rest upon them in answer to their prayers. “Therefore also now, saith the Lord, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: and rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil. Who knoweth if he will return and repent, and leave a blessing behind him? ... Ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am the Lord your God, and none else: and my people shall never be ashamed.” RH February 9, 1897, par. 14