1, 1893 — The Power of Prayer
We should realize that we have a friend at court, one who can plead the cause of our soul, one who will be our helper in every emergency. Jesus says, “When ye pray, believe that ye receive the things ye ask for, and ye shall have them.” You are to come to the Father, emptying the soul of every sin and defilement, that you may prove the promises of the Lord. You cannot indulge your own temper and have your own way, and still expect to have the advantages of the children of God; you must struggle with hereditary tendencies, and yield not to temptation. “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” As a child comes to its parent, so you are to come to Jesus, telling Him just what you want, presenting before Him your need of his presence and grace. The Lord has promised to give the Holy Spirit to them that ask Him; and as an illustration of our need, and his willingness to give, He presents before us a hungry child asking his earthly parent for bread. The question is asked, “What man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?” He appeals to the tender natural affection of a parent for his child, and then 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?”
Jesus knows our weakness. He is acquainted with our besetments and infirmities, and it is his delight to give us aid; for He “is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” When He was upon earth, wherever the opportunity offered, wherever He found a hungry soul, He presented the bread which came down from heaven. Worldly position, worldly honour, had no attraction for Him; but that which appealed to his heart was a soul perishing for the water of life. He had come to be the Saviour of all—Jew and Gentile, rich and poor, free and bond; and He identified his interests with those of suffering humanity. Christ and the child of humanity were to become one. He clothed his divinity with humanity, that He might impart to man the divine nature. The spirit and character of Christ are to be represented in his followers. By faith Christ is to become to the believer, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption. He has said, “I will make a man more precious than fine gold, even a man than the golden wedge of Ophir.” One soul is of more worth to Jesus than the whole world. Let the soul look to Jesus, let him “behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.” No one will be compelled to look to Christ; but the voice of invitation is sounding in yearning entreaty, “Look and live.”
Jesus has not changed. With Him there is no variableness, neither shadow of turning; He is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He still loves and pities the erring, seeking to draw them to Himself, that He may give them divine aid. He knows that a demon power is struggling for the control of every soul striving for the mastery; but Jesus came to break the power of Satan, and to set the captives free. He will provide strength from above, that we may see and resist the temptations of the enemy. Through communion with God we may have divine discernment; but Satan ever seeks to hinder men from engaging in prayer. He seeks to fill their time with business or pleasure, or to lead them into such evil that they will have no desire to pray.
Heaven has been made accessible to all who will come, and we need not walk stumblingly or in uncertainty. If we ask guidance of the Lord, the promise is, “Ye shall receive.” The promises of God are yea and amen in Christ Jesus. “Seek, and ye shall find.” This is what we need to do every hour of our lives; for if we seek for the right way in sincerity, we shall find it. Feeling the need of help from the Lord, we shall seek for it in humble prayer. He who realizes his dependence upon God will realize that without Christ he can do nothing, and will esteem the privilege of communion with God above everything else.
Daniel appreciated the privilege of praying to the God of heaven, and he so valued the opportunity of prayer that he would allow nothing to come between his soul and God. When the decree went forth that no man should ask a petition of any man or of any god save of the king for the space of thirty days, Daniel went to his chamber, and with his windows open towards Jerusalem as was his custom, he prayed three times a day to the God of heaven. For his loyalty to God, Daniel was thrust into the den of lions. The king mourned for the calamity that had befallen Daniel, and, discerning the device through which he had come into trial as a plan of his enemies, he regretted that the decree had been made. He sought earnestly to deliver Daniel from death; but it was even beyond his power, for Daniel was cast into the den of lions. But he had good company in that den of wild beasts; for the “angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear Him, and delivereth them.” God sent his angel, and closed the mouths of the hungry lions, that they should not hurt him. The king passed a sleepless night, and in the early morning, he went in haste to the den of lions. “And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel, and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions? Then said Daniel unto the king, O king, live forever. My God hath sent his angel, and hath shut the lions’ mouths, that they have not hurt me: forasmuch as before Him innocency was found in me; and also before thee, O king, have I done no hurt. Then was the king exceeding glad for him, and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taken up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him because he believed in his God.”
God does not promise his people exemption from trial, but He promises that which is far better. He says, “As thy days, so shall thy strength be.” “My grace is sufficient for thee; for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” When tribulation comes upon us, the Lord would not have us think that He has forsaken us; we are of value in his sight. He has placed upon us a value equal to the sufferings of his dear Son. He says, “With great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee.” “When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned, neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the Lord thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour; I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee. Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honourable, and I have loved thee; therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life. Fear not; for I am with thee…. I, even I, am He that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.” “My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience.” And “let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.”
When tribulation comes upon us, how many of us fail to rejoice. Many are like Peter, and look upon the troublous waves about them, instead of keeping the eye fixed upon Jesus. When we turn our eyes from our difficulties, and fix them upon Jesus our helper, we see what matchless charms He has, and know that “all things work together for good to them that love God.” We do not forget the exhortation which is spoken unto us, “My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him; for whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth. If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not? …For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure: but He for our profit; that we might be partakers of his holiness.”
Then let us take each day’s cares and sorrows and trials to Jesus, casting all our care upon Him; for He careth for us. Let us begin each day as if it were the last we should pass upon earth, and continuing in prayer let us live in such a way, that we may ask God at its close to bless our efforts and influence. Through connection with Christ, through acceptance of his righteousness by faith, we may work the works of God, and become labourers together with Christ. He will bestow upon us heavenly gifts that will satisfy the deepest cravings of the heart. If you come to Him as little children, pleading God’s promises, making them your own, you will receive fulness of joy, and have a foretaste of eternal blessedness.
1, 1893 — The Power of Prayer