Pray Without Ceasing
Mrs. E. G. White
Prayer is the breath of the soul, the channel of all blessings. As, with a realization of the needs of humanity, with a feeling of self-loathing, the repentant soul offers its prayer, God sees its struggles, watches its conflicts, and marks its sincerity. He has his finger upon its pulse, and he takes note of every throb. Not a feeling thrills it, not an emotion agitates it, not a sorrow shades it, not a sin stains it, not a thought or purpose moves it, of which he is not cognizant. That soul was purchased at an infinite cost, and is loved with a devotion that is unalterable.
Prayer to the Great Physician for the healing of the soul brings the blessing of God. Prayer unites us one to another and to God. Prayer brings Jesus to our side, and gives new strength and fresh grace to the fainting, perplexed soul. By prayer the sick have been encouraged to believe that God will look with compassion upon them. A ray of light penetrates to the hopeless soul, and becomes a savor of life unto life. Prayer has "subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire,"—we shall know what this means when we hear the reports of the martyrs who died for their faith,—"turned to flight the armies of the aliens."
We shall hear about these victories when the Captain of our salvation, the glorious King of heaven, opens the record before those of whom John writes, "These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. They shall hunger no more, neither thirst any more; neither shall the sun light on them, nor any heat. For the Lamb which is in the midst of the throne shall feed them, and shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes."
Note: Only the 144,000 enter the Temple in heaven, Early Writings, p. 19. End note.
Christ our Saviour was tempted in all points like as we are, yet he was without sin. He took human nature, being made in fashion as a man, and his necessities were the necessities of a man. He had bodily wants to be supplied, bodily weariness to be relieved. It was by prayer to his Father that he was braced for duty and for trial. Day by day he followed his round of duty, seeking to save souls. His heart went out in tender sympathy for the weary and heavy laden. And he spent whole nights in prayer in behalf of the tempted ones.
Christ has given his disciples assurance that special seasons for devotion are necessary. Prayer went before and sanctified every act of his ministry. He communed with his Father till the close of his life; and when he hung upon the cross, there arose from his lips the bitter cry, "My God, my God why hast thou forsaken me?" Then, in a voice which has reached to the very ends of the earth, he exclaimed, "Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit." Strength for the performance of daily duties is derived from worshiping God in the beauty of holiness. The night seasons of prayer which the Saviour spent in the mountain or in the desert were essential to prepare him for the trials he must meet in the days to follow. He felt the need of the refreshing and invigorating of soul and body, that he might meet the temptations of Satan; and those who are striving to live his life will feel this same need.
The Christian is given the invitation to carry his burdens to God in prayer, and to fasten himself closely to Christ by the cords of living faith. The Lord authorizes us to pray, declaring that he will hear the prayers of those who trust in his infinite power. He will be honored by those who draw nigh to him, who faithfully do his service. "Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee, because he trusteth in thee." The arm of Omnipotence is outstretched to guide us and lead us onward and still onward. Go forward, the Lord says; I understand the case, and I will send you help. Continue to pray. Have faith in me. It is for my name's glory that you ask, and you shall receive. I will be honored before those who are watching critically for your failure. They shall see the truth triumph gloriously. "All things, whatsoever ye ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
The believer in Christ is consecrated to high and holy purpose. Before the service of the royal priesthood the glory of the Aaronic priesthood is eclipsed. Called according to God's purpose, set apart by grace divine, invested with Christ's righteousness, imbued with the Holy Spirit, offering up the sacrifices of a broken and contrite heart, the true believer is indeed a representative of the Redeemer. Upon such a worshiper, God looks with delight. He will let his light shine into the chambers of the mind and into the soul-temple if men, when they lack wisdom, will go to their closets in prayer, and ask wisdom from him who gives to all men liberally and upbraids not. The promise is, "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." Christ has pledged himself to be our substitute and surety, and he neglects no one. There is an inexhaustible fund of perfect obedience accruing from his obedience. In heaven his merits, his self-denial and self-sacrifice, are treasured up as incense to be offered up with the prayers of his people. As the sinner's sincere, humble prayers ascend to the throne of God, Christ mingles with them the merits of his life of perfect obedience. Our prayers are made fragrant by this incense. Christ has pledged himself to intercede in our behalf, and the Father always hears his Son. Pray then; pray without ceasing; an answer is sure to come.
But let me speak in warning: "If any man regard iniquity in his heart, the Lord will not hear him."
Show a firm, undeviating trust in God. Be ever true to principle. Waver not; speak decidedly that which you know to be truth, and leave the consequences with God. Bear in mind that God tests the genuineness of your desire. Believe the word of God, and never cease to press your petitions to his throne with sanctified, holy boldness. "Men ought always to pray, and not to faint." By precept and example keep the standard uplifted. Your testimony, in its genuineness and reality, God will make powerful in the power of the life to come. The word of the Lord will be in your mouth as truth and righteousness.
Let all remember that the mysteries of God's kingdom can not be learned by reasoning. True faith, true prayer—how strong they are! The prayer of the Pharisee had no value, but the prayer of the publican was heard in the courts above, because it showed dependence reaching forth to lay hold of Omnipotence. Self was to the publican nothing but shame. Thus it must be with all who seek God. Faith and prayer are the two arms which the needy suppliant lays upon the neck of infinite Love.
"We are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it. Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which can not be uttered. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.... What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things? ... I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, not things present, not things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Why do you not cease from sin? You may overcome if you will co-operate with God. Christ's promise is sure. He pledges himself to fill the office of personal Intercessor, saying, "I will pray the Father." He who could not see human beings exposed to eternal ruin without pouring our his soul unto death in their behalf, will look with pity and compassion upon every one who realizes that he can not save himself. He will look upon no trembling suppliant without raising him up. He who through his own atonement provided for man an infinite fund of moral power will not fail to employ this power in their behalf. We may take life's controversies and troubles to his feet; for he loves us. His every word and look invite our confidence. He will shape and mold our characters according to his will, and every day we shall be found asking, "Lord, what wilt thou have me to do?"
Let us commit the needs of the soul to him who has loved us, and given his precious life that he might make it possible for us to learn of him. While lifting the cross, he says to us, "If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me." Christ alone can make us capable of responding when he says, "Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart." This means that every day self must be denied. Christ can give us the noble resolve, the will to suffer, and to fight the battles of the Lord with persevering energy. The weakest, aided by divine grace, may have strength to be more than conqueror.
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?" These gifts are freely given to us by God. Oh, how weak is our faith, that we do not avail ourselves of the rich, glorious promises of God! It is his nature to bestow his gifts upon us. All-wise and all-powerful, he will give liberally to all who ask in faith. He is more merciful, more tender, more patient and loving than any earthly parent. He draws us to him by endearing language, that we may have courage and confidence. We are won to him by the disclosure of the tender sympathy that flows from his heart of love. No human parent could plead as earnestly with an erring child as God pleads with us.
All things are possible to those that believe. No one coming to the Lord in sincerity of heart will be disappointed. How wonderful it is that we can pray effectually, that unworthy, erring mortals possess the power of offering their requests to God! What higher power can man require than this,—to be linked with the infinite God? Feeble, sinful man has the privilege of speaking to his Maker. We utter words that reach the throne of the Monarch of the universe. We pour out our heart's desire in our closets. Then we go forth to walk with God as did Enoch.
We speak with Jesus Christ as we walk by the way, and he says, "I am at thy right hand." We may walk in daily companionship with Christ. When we breathe out our desire, it may be inaudible to any human ear, but that word can not die away into silence, nor can it be lost, though the activities of business are going on. Nothing can drown the soul's desire. It rises above the din of the street, above the noise of machinery, to the heavenly courts. It is God to whom we are speaking, and the prayer is heard. Ask then; "ask, and it shall be given you."