“Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought (do not be anxious or fearful) for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat (food), and the body than rainment (clothing) ?
O ye of little faith? . . . Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they ? . . .
But seek ye first the Kingdom (Sovereign Reign) of God, and His Righteousness; and all these things shall be added (given) unto you . . . !” Matthew 6:25-34 & Luke 12:6-7
Luke seems to have been much impressed with the prayers of the Saviour, and with His custom of communing with His Heavenly Father. He records a number of instances where the Saviour engaged in public and private prayer. He says: “Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus (Yehushua) also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon Him, and a Voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art My Beloved Son; in Thee I Am well pleased !” Luke 3:21-22
Again he writes: “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 (Adoni – Sovereign, Master) teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And He (Jesus) said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be (Holy is) Thy name (I AM THAT I AM). 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 11:1-13
Jesus repeated this prayer with great solemnity, and then gave His disciples an illustration of the privilege and success of prayer. He gave this lesson to encourage His disciples to be persevering in offering their petitions, and to encourage all in continual striving in prayer.
“And He said unto them, 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, Though he will not rise and give him, because he is his friend, yet because of his importunity (persistence), he will rise and give him as many as he needeth.” In this lesson is an illustration of the fact that even a selfish man will reluctantly yield to an urgent request, not because his friend calls upon him, but in order to get rid of the importunate prayer that sounds in his ear and disturbs his hour of rest. He asks to be let alone, but the suppliant does not cease his importuning, and he rises and gives him all he asks, in order to get rid of the disturber of his rest. What a lesson is conveyed in this parable to those who are spiritually slothful !
Jesus continues: “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 (persistently) receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Luke 11:9-10
If a selfish person is prevailed upon to grant the request of his friend, in order to get rid of the disturber of his rest, how much more will our Heavenly Father, Who loves us, grant the requests of those to come to Him in faith, and who will not yield to discouragement because of apparent delay?
The petition that the suppliant offers to Heaven, God is as willing to grant as the petitioner is earnest to request. The Lord in His wisdom does not always grant the request at once. He sees that it is necessary that the petitioner should search his heart, and should exercise repentance for sin and wrong. He sees that it is necessary that the heart should be emptied of vanity so that God may pour His richest treasures into the soul.
The Lord encourages us to ask. No one is to become discouraged because he does not immediately realize the relief he desires. Let the petitioner cherish trusting faith, and refuse to be disheartened. Let him appropriate the Promise, believing that his petition has found favor with God, and Rest (trust in complete reliance) in the Promise, “It shall be given you.” Although we cannot always be upon our knees, yet the desires of our heart should be constantly ascending to God. We should present to Him those things that we feel are necessary for our advancement.
We may have to pass through a painful season of suspense, and our case may seem exceedingly urgent, but in this way the soul becomes educated to look unto God as unto a faithful Creator. He would have us ponder on the Promises and delight in the positive assurances that He has brought to view in His precious Word.
“For all the Promises of God in Him (Christ Jesus – The Word that was made flesh), are Yea, and in Him, Amen, unto the glory of God by us . . . For He is the Author and the Finisher of our faith !” II Corinthians 1:20 & Hebrews 12:2
The Promises of God are like precious flowers scattered through a garden. The Lord would have us linger over them, looking closely into them, taking in their loveliness, and appreciating the favor that God has bestowed upon us by making such rich provisions for our needs.
Were it not for contemplation of the Promises of God, we could not understand the gracious love and compassion of God toward us, or realize how rich were the treasures prepared for those who love Him. He would have the soul encouraged to repose (Rest, seated with Christ) in faith upon Him, the only sufficiency of the human agent !
We are to send our petitions through the darkest clouds that Satan may cast over us, and let our faith pierce to the throne of God encircled by the rainbow of Promise, the assurance that God is True, that in Him is no variableness neither shadow of turning. The answer may appear to be delayed, but it is not so ! The petition is accepted, and the answer given when it is essential for the best good of the petitioner, and when the fulfillment of the request will work most for our eternal interest. God scatters His blessings all along our path to brighten our heavenward journey.
The man who was solicited at midnight, and who at first refused to be disturbed, does not represent God. The parable teaches us to press our petitions again and again, and exercise unfailing faith in Him Whose Promises are Yea and Amen. Again, the Saviour illustrates the way in which our Heavenly Father will deal with us, by presenting the case of a father dealing with his children. He says: “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 ?”
Our God is not uncourteous, disobliging, and selfish. He is not like the man who refused to help one whom he called his friend. The course of God toward his solicitors is in marked contrast to this. He gives a positive assurance, saying, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.” Paternal love is manifested toward the child that asks for bread, and the Father does all in His power to satisfy His request. Jesus says, “How much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him ?”
“And the Words that I speak unto you, they are Spirit, and they are Life . . . !” John 6:63
We are to come before the mercy-seat with reverence, calling up to our mind the Promises that God has given, contemplating the goodness of God, and offering up thankful praises for His unchangeable love.
We are not to trust in our finite prayers, but in the Word of our Heavenly Father, in His assurance of His love for us. Believing the Promise of His unchanging love, we press our petitions to the throne of grace. Our faith may be tested by delay; but the prophet has given instruction as to what we should do. He says, “Who is among you that feareth the LORD (Jehovah, Yehuwah), that obeyeth the voice of His servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” Wait upon the LORD; He has made the Promise, and is back of the assurance.
ref: Isaiah 50:10
In the parable the uncourteous, disobliging man yielded at last to the persevering entreaty of his friend, but God is not like this surly, selfish person. He delights to bless His heritage. In contrast with the man in the parable, Jesus asks, “How much more shall your Heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him?” He who hungers and thirsts after righteousness will be filled. Wait upon the Lord, comfort your heart with expectation, rejoice in hope that maketh not ashamed.
Wait upon Him in humility as a humble suppliant. Wait on the Lord, and He will bring it to pass. When doubts fold their dark pinions about your soul, present to the Lord His Promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you.” Believe you receive the things you ask for, and you shall have them ! ref: Mark 11:24
What is faith? The apostle says, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”
Pray often to your Heavenly Father. The oftener you engage in prayer, the closer your soul will be drawn into a sacred nearness to God. The Holy Spirit will make intercession for the sincere petitioner with groanings which cannot be uttered, and the heart will be softened and subdued by the love of God.
The clouds and shadows which Satan casts about the soul will be dispelled by the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, . . . “For Thy Word is a Lamp unto my feet, and a Light unto my path !” . . . and the chambers of mind and heart will be illuminated by the lLght of Heaven.
But be not discouraged if your prayers do not seem to obtain an immediate answer. The Lord sees that prayer is often mixed with earthliness. Men pray for that which will gratify their selfish desires, and the Lord does not fulfill their requests in the way which they expect. He takes them through tests and trials, He brings them through humiliations, until they see more clearly what their necessities are. He does not give to men those things which will gratify a debased appetite, and which will prove an injury to the human agent, and make him a dishonor to God. He does not give men that which will gratify their ambition, and work simply for self-exaltation. When we come to God, we must be submissive and contrite of heart, subordinating everything to His sacred will.
In the garden of Gethsemane, Christ prayed to his Father, saying, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from Me.” The cup which He prayed should be removed from Him, that looked so bitter to His soul, was the cup of separation from God in consequence of the sin of the world. He Who was perfectly innocent and unblamable, became as one guilty before God, in order that the guilty might be pardoned and stand as innocent before God.
When He was assured that the world could be saved in no other way than through the sacrifice of Himself, He said, “Nevertheless, not what I will, but what Thou wilt.” The spirit of submission that Christ manifested in offering up His prayer before God, is the spirit that is acceptable to God. Let the soul feel its need, its helplessness, its nothingness, let all its energies be called forth in an earnest desire for help, and help will come !
Let the language of the petitioner be, “As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after Thee, O God.” We can never commit our interests to God for time and for eternity until we accept Him as the One Who is worthy of our highest confidence. Let faith pierce the darkness.
Walk with God in the dark as well as in the light, repeating the words, “He is faithful that promised.” Through the trial of our faith we shall be trained to trust in God. The Lord will imbue us with His Holy Spirit, in order that we may feel our need and seek His help. Those who seek Him with the whole heart will find hHm . . . !
– Review & Herald, November 19, 1895
Ellen G. White