The Need of Instruction on Health Principles

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The Need of Instruction on Health Principles

E. G. White July 5, 1892


During my sickness I have thought much in reference to praying for the sick, and I believe that if prayer should be offered for the sick at any place (and it certainly should), it should be offered at the Sanitarium for the relief and restoration of the suffering. {SpM 5.1}


But in this matter of praying for the sick, I should not move in exactly the same lines as have my brethren. I have been considering many things that have been presented to me in the past in reference to this subject. Suppose that twenty men and women should present themselves as subjects of prayer at some of our camp-meetings. This would not be unlikely, for those who are suffering will do anything in their power to obtain relief and to regain their health. Of these twenty, few have regarded the light on the subject of purity and health reform. They have neglected to practice right principles in eating and drinking, and in taking care of their bodies: and those who are married have formed gross habits, and indulged in unholy practices, while those who are unmarried have been reckless of life and health. In clear rays the light has shone upon them; but they have not had respect to the light, nor have they walked circumspectly; yet they solicit the prayers of God’s people, and call for the elders of the church. Should they regain the blessing of health, many of them would pursue the same course of heedless transgression of nature’s laws, unless enlightened and thoroughly transformed. {SpM 5.2}


They solicit the prayers of God’s people, and call for the elders, of the church; but little is known of their private life. Sin has brought many of them where they are, to a state of feebleness of mind and debility of body. Shall prayer be offered to the God of heaven for His healing power to come upon them then and there, without specifying any conditions? I say No! decidedly no! {SpM 5.3}


What then shall be done? Present their cases before Him who knows every individual by name. Present their cases to Him who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Present these thoughts to the persons who come asking for your prayers. We are human, we can not read the mind or heart or know the secrets of your life. These are known only to yourself and God. If you now repent of your sin, if you can see that in any instance you have walked contrary to the light given you of God, and have neglected to give honor to the body, the temple of God, and by wrong habits have degraded the body which is Christ’s property, make confession of these things to God. {SpM 5.4}


Unless you are wrought upon by the Spirit of God in a special manner to confess your sins of a private nature to man, do not breathe them to any human soul. Christ is your Redeemer, He will take no advantage of your humiliating confessions. If you have a sin of a private character, confess it to Christ, who is the only Mediator between God and man. “If any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” If you have sinned by withholding from God His own in tithes and offerings, confess your guilt to God and to the church, and heed the injunction that has been given you, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of Hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” {SpM 5.5}


Note: The inference is that one cannot expect answers to prayer for health or restored health if he/she is robbing God in tithes and offering. Further, one so engaged cannot expect to be saved. End note.


Praying for the sick is a most solemn thing, and we should not enter upon this work in any careless, hasty way. Examination should be made as to whether those who would be blessed with health have indulged in evil speaking, alienation, and dissension. Have they sowed discord among the brethren and sisters in the church? If these things have been committed, they should be confessed, before God and the church. When wrongs have been confessed, the subjects for prayer may be presented before God in earnestness and faith, as the Spirit of God may move upon you. {SpM 6.1}


But it is not always safe to ask for (un?) conditional healing. Let your prayer include this thought, “Lord, Thou knowest every secret of the soul. Thou art acquainted with these persons, for Jesus their advocate gave His life for them. He loved them better than we possibly can. If therefore it is for Thy glory, and the good of these afflicted ones to raise them up to health, we ask in the name of Jesus, that health may be given them at this time.” {SpM 6.2}


In a petition of this kind, no lack of faith is manifested. There are cases that are clear, and the Lord works with His divine power in their restoration. The will of God is evidenced too plainly to be misunderstood. The Lord does not afflict willingly nor grieve the children of men. Like as a father pitieth his children, so the Lord pitieth them that fear Him. For He knoweth our frame, He remembereth what we are dust. He knoweth our hearts, for He reads every secret of the soul. He knows whether or not those for whom petitions are offered would be able to endure the trial and test that would come upon them if they lived. He knows the end from the beginning. {SpM 6.3}


Many will be laid away to sleep in Jesus before the fiery ordeal of the time of trouble shall come upon our world. This is another reason why we should say after our earnest petition, “Nevertheless, not my will, but Thine, O Lord, be done.” Such a petition will never be registered in heaven as a faithless prayer. The Apostle was bidden to write: “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth; Yea saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labors; and their works do follow them.” From this we can see that every one is not to be judged as unworthy of eternal life. If Jesus, the world’s Redeemer, prayed, “O My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me,” and then added, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as Thou wilt,” how very appropriate is it for poor, finite mortals to make surrender to the wisdom and will of God. {SpM 6.4}


In praying for the sick, we are to pray that if it be God’s will, they may be raised up, but if not, that He will give them His grace to comfort, His presence to sustain them in their suffering. Many who should set their house in order, neglect to do it when they have hope that they will be raised to health in answer to prayer. Buoyed up by a false hope, they do not feel the need of saying words of exhortation to their children, parents, or friends, and it is a great misfortune. Accepting the assurance that they should be healed when prayed for, they dare not make a reference as to how their property should be disposed of, how their family is to be cared for, or express any wish concerning their matters of which they would speak if they thought they should be removed by death. In this way disasters are brought upon the family and friends. For many things are left unmentioned, because they fear expressions on these points would be a denial of their faith that should be understood. Believing that they will be raised to health by prayer, they fail to make use of hygienic measures that are in their power to use, fearing that it would be a denial of their faith. I thank the Lord that it is our privilege to cooperate with Him in the work of restoration, availing ourselves of all possible advantages in the recovery of health. It is no denial of our faith to place ourselves in the condition most favorable to recovery. {SpM 7.1}


The use of drugs has not been specified as in the Lord’s order, but He has given special light concerning our health institutions, directing His people to practice and cultivate hygienic principles. Such should be taught those who are in ignorance as to how to live in accordance with pure principles, practicing those things that will preserve the body in a healthful condition. Man is to cooperate with God-given ability. He is not to be ignorant as to what are right practices in eating and drinking, and in all his habits of life. The Lord designs that His human agents shall act as rational, accountable beings in every respect. {SpM 7.2}


But though light upon this matter has been shining upon the pathway of our people for nearly thirty years, yet a large number are far behind the light. Our churches are ignorant of hygienic principles and practices. We ought to be far advanced in wisdom, understanding what the will of the Lord is. We ought to know how to keep our minds pure and our bodies in a healthful condition. {SpM 7.3}


But though we have sinned, we may come to Christ in penitence, and find pardon. We can not afford to neglect one ray of light God has given. To be sluggish in the practice of those things which require diligence, is to commit sin. The human agent is to cooperate with God, and keep under those passions which should be in subjection. To do this he must be unwearied in his prayers to God, ever obtaining grace to control his spirit, temper, and actions. {SpM 7.4}


Ellen G. White

July 5, 1892.