Ellen G. White Writings

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Homeward Bound, Page 144

The Science of Prayer, May 3

Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks.—1 Thessalonians 5:17, 18.

Christ’s lessons in regard to prayer should be carefully considered. There is a divine science in prayer, and His illustration [of the friend at midnight, Luke 11:5-8] brings to view principles that all need to understand. He shows what is the true spirit of prayer, He teaches the necessity of perseverance in presenting our requests to God, and assures us of His willingness to hear and answer prayer.

Our prayers are not to be a selfish asking, merely for our own benefit. We are to ask that we may give. The principle of Christ’s life must be the principle of our lives. “For their sakes,” He said, speaking of His disciples, “I sanctify Myself, that they also might be sanctified.” (John 17:19.) The same devotion, the same self-sacrifice, the same subjection to the claims of the word of God, that were manifest in Christ, must be seen in His servants. Our mission to the world is not to serve or please ourselves; we are to glorify God by cooperating with Him to save sinners. We are to ask blessings from God that we may communicate to others. The capacity for receiving is preserved only by imparting. We cannot continue to receive heavenly treasure without communicating to those around us.

In the parable the petitioner was again and again repulsed, but he did not relinquish his purpose. So our prayers do not always seem to receive an immediate answer; but Christ teaches that we should not cease to pray. Prayer is not to work any change in God; it is to bring us into harmony with God. When we make request of Him, He may see that it is necessary for us to search our hearts and repent of sin. Therefore He takes us through test and trial, He brings us through humiliation, that we may see what hinders the working of His Holy Spirit through us.

There are conditions to the fulfillment of God’s promises, and prayer can never take the place of duty. “If ye love Me,” Christ says, “Keep My commandments.” “He that hath My commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me; and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:15, 21.) Those who bring their petitions to God, claiming His promise while they do not comply with the conditions, insult Jehovah. They bring the name of Christ as their authority for the fulfillment of the promise, but they do not those things that would show faith in Christ and love for Him.—Christ’s Object Lessons, 142, 143.

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