The Review and Herald


December 8, 1904

The Privilege of Prayer

[Reprinted from “Steps to Christ”]


Through nature and revelation, through his providence, and by the influence of his Spirit, God speaks to us. But these are not enough; we need also to pour out our hearts to him. In order to have spiritual life and energy, we must have actual intercourse with our Heavenly Father. Our minds may be drawn out toward him; we may meditate upon his works, his mercies, his blessings; but this is not, in the fullest sense, communing with him. In order to commune with God, we must have something to say to him concerning our actual life. RH December 8, 1904, par. 1

Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to him. RH December 8, 1904, par. 2

When Jesus was upon the earth, he taught his disciples how to pray. He directed them to present their daily needs before God, and to cast all their care upon him. And the assurance he gave them that their petitions should be heard, is assurance also to us. RH December 8, 1904, par. 3

Jesus himself, while he dwelt among men, was often in prayer. Our Saviour identified himself with our needs and weaknesses, in that he became a suppliant, a petitioner, seeking from his Father fresh supplies of strength, that he might come forth braced for duty and trial. He is our example in all things. He is a brother in our infirmities, “in all points tempted like as we are;” but as the sinless One his nature recoiled from evil; he endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin. His humanity made prayer a necessity and a privilege. He found comfort and joy in communion with his Father. And if the Saviour of men, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the necessity of fervent, constant prayer! RH December 8, 1904, par. 4

Our Heavenly Father waits to bestow upon us the fulness of his blessing. It is our privilege to drink largely at the fountain of boundless love. What a wonder it is that we pray so little! God is ready and willing to hear the sincere prayer of the humblest of his children, and yet there is much manifest reluctance on our part to make known our wants to God. What can the angels of heaven think of poor helpless human beings, who are subject to temptation, when God's heart of infinite love yearns toward them, ready to give them more than they can ask or think, and yet they pray so little, and have so little faith? The angels love to bow before God; they love to be near him. They regard communion with God as their highest joy; and yet the children of earth, who need so much the help that God only can give, seem satisfied to walk without the light of his Spirit, the companionship of his presence. RH December 8, 1904, par. 5

The darkness of the evil one encloses those who neglect to pray. The whispered temptations of the enemy entice them to sin; and it is all because they do not make use of the privileges that God has given them in the divine appointment of prayer. Why should the sons and daughters of God be reluctant to pray, when prayer is the key in the hand of faith to unlock heaven's storehouse, where are treasured the boundless resources of Omnipotence? Without unceasing prayer and diligent watching, we are in danger of growing careless, and of deviating from the right path. The adversary seeks continually to obstruct the way to the mercy-seat, that we may not by earnest supplication and faith obtain grace and power to resist temptation. RH December 8, 1904, par. 6

If we take counsel with our doubts and fears, or try to solve everything that we can not see clearly, before we have faith, perplexities will only increase and deepen. But if we come to God, feeling helpless and dependent, as we really are, and in humble, trusting faith make known our wants to him whose knowledge is infinite, who sees everything in creation, and who governs everything by his will and word, he can and will attend to our cry, and will let light shine into our hearts. Through sincere prayer we are brought into connection with the mind of the Infinite. We may have no remarkable evidence at the time that the face of our Redeemer is bending over us in compassion and love; but this is even so. We may not feel his visible touch, but his hand is upon us in love and pitying tenderness. RH December 8, 1904, par. 7

When we come to ask mercy and blessing from God, we should have a spirit of love and forgiveness in our own hearts. How can we pray, “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors,” and yet indulge an unforgiving spirit? If we expect our own prayers to be heard, we must forgive others in the same manner, and to the same extent, as we hope to be forgiven. RH December 8, 1904, par. 8

There is necessity for diligence in prayer; let nothing hinder you. Make every effort to keep open the communion between Jesus and your own soul. Seek every opportunity to go where prayer is wont to be made. Those who are really seeking for communion with God will be seen in the prayer-meeting, faithful to do their duty, and earnest and anxious to reap all the benefits they can gain. They will improve every opportunity of placing themselves where they can receive the rays of light from heaven. RH December 8, 1904, par. 9

Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You can not burden him; you can not weary him. He who numbers the hairs of your head is not indifferent to the wants of his children. “The Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” His heart of love is touched by our sorrows, and even by our utterance of them. Take to him everything that perplexes the mind. Nothing is too great for him to bear; for he holds up worlds, he rules over all the affairs of the universe. Nothing that in any way concerns our peace is too small for him to notice. There is no chapter in our experience too dark for him to read; no perplexity is too difficult for him to unravel. No calamity can befall the least of his children, no anxiety harass the soul, no joy cheer, no sincere prayer escape the lips, of which our Heavenly Father is unobservant, or in which he takes no immediate interest. “He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds.” The relations between God and each soul are as distinct and full as though there were not another soul upon the earth to share his watch-care, not another soul for whom he gave his beloved Son. RH December 8, 1904, par. 10