The Youth’s Instructor


August 18, 1898

Prayer Our Stronghold


Amid the perils of these last days, the only safety of the youth lies in ever-increasing watchfulness and prayer. The youth who finds his joy in reading the word of God, and in the hour of prayer, will be constantly refreshed by drafts from the fountain of life. He will attain a height of moral excellence and a breadth of thought of which others can not conceive. Communion with God encourages good thoughts, noble aspirations, clear perceptions of truth, and lofty purposes of action. Those who thus connect themselves with God are acknowledged by him as his sons and daughters. They are constantly reaching higher and still higher, obtaining clearer views of God and of eternity, until the Lord makes them channels of light and wisdom to the world. YI August 18, 1898, par. 1

But prayer is not understood as it should be. Our prayers are not to inform God of something he does not know. The Lord is acquainted with the secrets of every soul. Our prayers need not be long and loud. God reads the hidden thought. We may pray in secret, and he who sees in secret will hear, and will reward us openly. YI August 18, 1898, par. 2

The prayers that are offered to God to tell him of all our wretchedness, when we do not feel wretched at all, are the prayers of hypocrisy. It is the contrite prayer that the Lord regards. “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.” YI August 18, 1898, par. 3

Prayer is not intended to work any change in God; it brings us into harmony with God. It does not take the place of duty. Prayer offered ever so often and ever so earnestly will never be accepted by God in the place of our tithe. Prayer will not pay our debts to God. The servants of Christ are to rely upon God as did Daniel in the courts of Babylon. Daniel knew the value of prayer, its aim, and its object; and the prayers which he and his three companions offered to God after being chosen by the king for the courts of Babylon, were answered. YI August 18, 1898, par. 4

There was another class of captives carried into Babylon. These the Lord permitted to be torn from their homes, and carried into a land of idolaters, because they were themselves continually going into idolatry. The Lord let them have all they desired of the idolatrous practises of Babylon. And the righteous with the unrighteous were taken away into a land where the name of Jehovah would not come to their ears; where songs of praise and thanksgiving to God would not be heard; where prophets with messages of warnings and reproof and counsel would be few and far between. YI August 18, 1898, par. 5

The youth have an example in Daniel, and if they are true to principle and to duty, they will be instructed as Daniel was. As the wisdom of the world viewed the matter, Daniel and his three companions had every advantage secured to them in the courts of Babylon, but it was here that their first great test was to come. Their principles were to come into collision with the regulations and appointments of the king. YI August 18, 1898, par. 6

“And the king appointed them a daily provision of the king's meat, and of the wine which he drank.” Three years was this diet to last before their examination should take place, and then they were to be brought in before the king. YI August 18, 1898, par. 7

Daniel and his three companions did not take the position that because their food and drink were of the king's appointment, it was their duty to partake of it. They prayed over the matter, and studied the Scriptures. Their education had been of such a character that they felt even in their captivity that God was their dependence; and after carefully reasoning from cause to effect, “Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.” YI August 18, 1898, par. 8

This request they did not prefer in a defiant spirit, but as if soliciting a great favor. The appearance of Daniel and his companions was like what every youth's should be. They were courteous, kind, respectful, possessing the grace of meekness and modesty. And the good behavior of these youth obtained favor for them. Of Daniel we read, “God had brought Daniel into favor and tender love with the prince of the eunuchs.” And now as Daniel and his fellows were brought to the test, they placed themselves fully on the side of righteousness and truth. They did not move capriciously, but intelligently. They decided that as flesh-meat had not composed their diet in the past, it should not come into their diet in the future, and as wine had been prohibited to all who should engage in the service of God, they determined that they would not partake of it. The fate of the sons of Aaron had been presented before them, and they knew that the use of wine would confuse their senses, that the indulgence of appetite would becloud their powers of discernment. These particulars were placed on record in the history of the children of Israel as a warning to every youth to avoid all customs and practises and indulgences that would in any way dishonor God. YI August 18, 1898, par. 9

Daniel and his companions knew not what would be the result of their decision; they knew not but that it would cost them their lives; but they determined to keep the straight path of strict temperance even when in the courts of licentious Babylon. They rested their case in the hands of God, and the Lord co-operated with them. He took charge of these youth because they prayed to him, and sought his guidance in regard to the course they should pursue. YI August 18, 1898, par. 10

The strength acquired in prayer to God will prepare us for our daily duties. The temptations to which we are daily exposed make prayer a necessity. In order that we may be kept by the power of God through faith, the desires of the mind should be continually ascending in silent prayer. When we are surrounded by influences calculated to lead us away from God, our petitions for help and strength must be unwearied. Unless, this is so, we shall never be successful in breaking down pride and overcoming the power of temptation to sinful indulgences which keep us from the Saviour. The light of truth, sanctifying the life, will discover to the receiver the sinful passions of his heart which are striving for the mastery, and which make it necessary for him to stretch every nerve and exert all his powers to resist Satan that he may conquer through the merits of Christ. YI August 18, 1898, par. 11

Mrs. E. G. White