Ellen G. White Writings

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The Signs of the Times

November 18, 1903

Effectual Prayer

By Mrs. E. G. White

Prayer is not an expiation for sin. It is not a penance. We need not come to God as condemned criminals; for Christ has paid the penalty of our transgression. He has made an atonement for us. His blood cleanses from sin.

Our prayers are as letters sent from earth, directed to our Father in heaven. The petitions that ascend from sincere, humble hearts will surely reach Him. He can discern the sincerity of His adopted children. He pities our weakness, and strengthens our infirmities. He has said, “Ask, and ye shall receive.”

Many of the human family know not what they should ask for as they ought. But the Lord is kind and tender. He helps their infirmities by giving them words to speak. He who comes with sanctified desire has access through Christ to the Father. Christ is our Intercessor. The prayers that are placed in the golden censer of the Saviour's merits are accepted by the Father.

Every promise in the Word of God is for us. In your prayers, present the pledged word of Jehovah, and by faith claim His promises. His word is the assurance that if you ask in faith, you will receive all spiritual blessings. Continue to ask, and you will receive exceeding abundantly above all that you ask or think. Educate yourself to have unlimited confidence in God. Cast all your care upon Him. Wait patiently for Him, and He will bring it to pass.

We are to come to God, not in a spirit of self-justification, but with humility, repenting of our sins. He is able to help us, willing to do for us more than we ask or think. He has the abundance of heaven wherewith to supply our necessities. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above.” God is holy, and we must pray, “lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”

We are to pray in the name of Christ, our Mediator. Our petitions are of value only as they are offered in His name. He has bridged the gulf that sin has made. By His atoning sacrifice, He has bound to Himself and His Father those who believe in Him. His is the only name under heaven whereby we may be saved.

God is our King, and we are His subjects. A mere knowledge of His will does not set aside the necessity of offering earnest supplications to Him for help, and of diligently seeking, by obeying His law, to co-operate with Him in answering the prayers offered. Thus His kingdom is established in our hearts.

“Seek ye the Lord while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let them return unto the Lord, and He will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” We are to seek “first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” We are to be ready to receive the blessing which God will bestow upon those who seek Him with the whole heart, in sincerity and truth. We must keep the heart open, if we would receive of the grace of Christ.

In our prayers we are not to preach a sermon to the Lord. We need not tell him the history of our lives. We can tell Him nothing with which He is unacquainted. He knows our inmost thoughts. Every secret is open before Him. Nothing can be hid from Him.

High-flown language is inappropriate in prayer, whether the prayer be offered in the pulpit, in the family circle, or in secret. Especially should one use simple language when offering public prayer, that others may understand what he says, and unite with his petition.

God hears the prayers that are offered in the family circle, if they come from devoted hearts. Jesus says, “Where two or three are gathered together in My name, there am I in the midst of them.”

Do not neglect secret prayer. “Enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

We are not to be so overwhelmed with the thought of our sins and errors that we shall cease to pray. Some realize their great weakness and sin, and become discouraged. Satan casts his dark shadow between them and the Lord Jesus, their atoning sacrifice. They say, It is useless for me to pray. My prayers are so mingled with evil thoughts that the Lord will not hear them. These suggestions are from Satan. In His humanity, Christ met and resisted this temptation, and He knows how to succor those who are thus tempted. In our behalf, He “offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears.”

Many, not understanding that their doubts come from Satan, become faint-hearted, and are defeated in the conflict.

Do not, because your thoughts are evil, cease to pray. If we could in our own wisdom and strength pray aright, we could also live aright, and would need no atoning sacrifice. But imperfection is upon all humanity. Educate and train the mind that you may in simplicity tell the Lord what you need. As you offer your petitions to God, seeking for forgiveness for sin, a purer and holier atmosphere will surround your soul.

When you pray for temporal blessings, remember that the Lord may see that it is not for your good or for His glory to give you just what you desire. But He will answer your prayer, giving you just what is best for you.

When Paul prayed that the thorn in his flesh might be removed, the Lord answered his prayer, not by removing the thorn, but by giving him grace to bear the trial. “My grace,” He said, “is sufficient for thee.” Paul rejoiced at this answer to his prayer, declaring. “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” When the sick pray for the recovery of health, the Lord does not always answer their prayer in just the way they desire. But even tho they may not be immediately healed, He will give them that which is of far more value,—grace to bear their sickness.

“If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and tossed.”

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