Ellen G. White Writings

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The Youth’s Instructor

October 1, 1855

Watch and Pray

Take ye heed, watch and pray,” were the words of our Saviour spoken in reference to the time of the end, and his second coming to take his faithful children home.

First, you are to watch. Watch, lest you should speak hastily, fretfully and impatiently. Watch, lest pride should find a place in your heart. Watch, lest evil passions should overcome you, instead of your subduing them. Watch, lest a careless, indifferent spirit comes upon you, and you neglect your duty and become light and trifling, and your influence savor of death, rather than life.

Second, you are to pray. Jesus would not have enjoined this upon you, unless there was actual necessity for it. It is well known to him that of yourself you cannot overcome the many temptations of the Enemy, and the many snares laid for your feet. He has not left you alone to do this; but has provided a way that you can obtain help. Therefore he has bid you to pray.

To pray aright, is to ask God in faith for the very things you need. Go to your chamber, or in some retired place, and ask your Father for Jesus’ sake to help you. There is power in that prayer that is sent up from a heart convinced of its own weakness, yet earnestly longing for that strength that comes from God. The earnest, fervent prayer will be heard and answered. Go to your God who is strong, and who loves to hear children pray, and, although you may feel very weak, and find yourself at times overcome by the Enemy, because you have neglected the first command of our Saviour, to watch, yet do not give up the struggle. Make stronger efforts yourself than before. Faint not. Cast yourself at the feet of Jesus, who has been tempted, and knows how to help such as are tempted. Confess your faults, your weakness, and that you must have help to overcome, or you perish. And as you ask, you must believe that God hears you. Plead your case before God, through Jesus, until your soul can with confidence rely upon him for strength, and you feel that you are not left to do the work of overcoming alone. God will help you. Angels will watch over you.

But before you can expect this help, you must do what you can on your part. Watch and pray. Let your prayers be fervent. Let this be the language of your heart, “I will not let thee go unless thou bless me.” Have a set time, a special season for prayer at least three times a day. Morning, noon, and at night Daniel prayed to his God, notwithstanding the king's decree, and the fearful den of lions. He was not ashamed, or afraid to pray, but with his windows opened he prayed three times a day. Did God forget his faithful servant when he was cast into the lion's den? O, No. He was with him there all night. He closed the mouths of these hungry lions, and they could not hurt the praying man of God.

Children, you cannot live without food; you would soon feel the cravings of hunger, and your bodies would pine and die. You need spiritual food just as much, and often, as your body needs temporal food. Three times a day is none to often to draw strength from heaven, or sap and nourishment from Christ, the living vine. Read the words of our Saviour in Matthew 5:6: “Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness; for they shall be filled.”

E. G. W.

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