Faith and Prayer
Faith is trusting God--believing that He loves us and knows best what
is for our good. Thus, instead of our own, it leads us to choose His
way. In place of our ignorance, it accepts His wisdom; in place of our
weakness, His strength; in place of our sinfulness, His righteousness.
Our lives, ourselves, are already His; faith acknowledges His ownership
and accepts its blessing. Truth, uprightness, purity, have been pointed
out as secrets of life's success. It is faith that puts us in possession
of these principles.
Every good impulse or aspiration is the gift of God; faith receives
from God the life that alone can produce true growth and efficiency.
How to exercise faith should be made very plain. To every promise of
God there are conditions. If we are willing to do His will, all His
strength is ours. Whatever gift He promises, is in the promise itself.
"The seed is the word of God." Luke 8:11. As surely as the oak
is in the acorn, so surely is the gift of God in His promise. If we
receive the promise, we have the gift.
Faith that enables us to receive God's gifts is itself a gift, of
which some measure is imparted to every human being. It grows as
exercised in appropriating the word of God. In order to strengthen
faith, we must often bring it in contact with the word.
In the study of the Bible the student should be led to see the power
of God's word. In the creation, "He spake, and it was done; He
commanded, and it stood fast." He "calleth those things which
be not as though they were" (Psalm 33:9; Romans 4:17); for when He
calls them, they are.
How often those who trusted the word of God, though in themselves
utterly helpless, have withstood the power of the whole world--Enoch,
pure in heart, holy in life, holding fast his faith in the triumph of
righteousness against a corrupt and scoffing generation; Noah and his
household against the men of his time, men of the greatest physical and
mental strength and the most debased in morals; the children of Israel
at the Red Sea, a helpless, terrified multitude of slaves, against the
mightiest army of the mightiest nation on the globe; David, a shepherd
lad, having God's promise of the throne, against Saul, the established
monarch, bent on holding fast his power; Shadrach and his companions in
the fire, and Nebuchadnezzar on the throne; Daniel among the lions, his
enemies in the high places of the kingdom; Jesus on the cross, and the
Jewish priests and rulers forcing even the Roman governor to work their
will; Paul in chains led to a criminal's death, Nero the despot of a
Such examples are not found in the Bible only. They abound in every
record of human progress. The Vaudois and the Huguenots, Wycliffe and
Huss, Jerome and Luther, Tyndale and Knox, Zinzendorf and Wesley, with
multitudes of others, have witnessed to the power of God's word against
human power and policy in support of evil. These are the world's true
nobility. This is its royal line. In this line the youth of today are
called to take their places.
Faith is needed in the smaller no less than in the greater affairs of
life. In all our daily interests and occupations the sustaining strength
of God becomes real to us through an abiding trust.
Viewed from its human side, life is to all an untried path. It is a
path in which, as regards our deeper experiences, we each walk alone.
Into our inner life no other human being can fully enter. As the little
child sets forth on that journey in which, sooner or later, he must
choose his own course, himself deciding life's issues for eternity, how
earnest should be the effort to direct his trust to the sure Guide and
As a shield from temptation and an inspiration to purity and truth,
no other influence can equal the sense of God's presence. "All
things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to
do." He is "of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not
look on iniquity." Hebrews 4:13; Habakkuk 1:13. This thought was
Joseph's shield amidst the corruptions of Egypt. To the allurements of
temptation his answer was steadfast: "How . . . can I do this great
wickedness, and sin against God?" Genesis 39:9. Such a shield,
faith, if cherished, will bring to every soul.
Only the sense of God's presence can banish the fear that, for the
timid child, would make life a burden. Let him fix in his memory the
promise, "The angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that
fear Him, and delivereth them." Psalm 34:7. Let him read that
wonderful story of Elisha in the mountain city, and, between him and the
hosts of armed foemen, a mighty encircling band of heavenly angels. Let
him read how to Peter, in prison and condemned to death, God's angel
appeared; how, past the armed guards, the massive doors and great iron
gateway with their bolts and bars, the angel led God's servant forth in
safety. Let him read of that scene on the sea, when the tempest-tossed
soldiers and seamen, worn with labor and watching and long fasting, Paul
the prisoner, on his way to trial and execution, spoke those grand words
of courage and hope: "Be of good cheer: for there shall be no loss
of any man's life among you. . . . For there stood by me
this night the angel of God, whose I am, and whom I serve, saying, Fear
not, Paul; thou must be brought before Caesar: and, lo, God hath given
thee all them that sail with thee." In the faith of this promise
Paul assured his companions, "There shall not an hair fall from the
head of any of you." So it came to pass. Because there was in that
ship one man through whom God could work, the whole shipload of heathen
soldiers and sailors was preserved. "They escaped all safe to
land." Acts 27:22-24, 34, 44.
These things were not written merely that we might read and wonder,
but that the same faith which wrought in God's servants of old might
work in us. In no less marked a manner than He wrought then will He work
now wherever there are hearts of faith to be channels of His power.
Let the self-distrustful, whose lack of self-reliance leads them to
shrink from care and responsibility, be taught reliance upon God. Thus
many a one who otherwise would be but a cipher in the world, perhaps
only a helpless burden, will be able to say with the apostle Paul,
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
For the child also who is quick to resent injuries, faith 257 has
precious lessons. The disposition to resist evil or to avenge wrong is
often prompted by a keen sense of justice and an active, energetic
spirit. Let such a child be taught that God is the eternal guardian of
right. He has a tender care for the beings whom He has so loved as to
give His dearest Beloved to save. He will deal with every wrongdoer.
"For he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of His eye."
"Commit thy way unto the Lord; trust also in Him; and He shall
bring it to pass. . . . He shall bring forth thy righteousness as the
light, and thy judgement as the noonday." Psalm 37:5, 6.
"The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in
times of trouble. And they that know Thy name will put their trust in
Thee: for Thou, Lord, hast not forsaken them that seek Thee." Psalm
The compassion that God manifests toward us, He bids us manifest
toward others. Let the impulsive, the self-sufficient, the revengeful,
behold the meek and lowly One, let as a lamb to the slaughter,
unretaliating as a sheep dumb before her shearers. Let them look upon
Him whom our sins have pierced and our sorrows burdened, and they will
learn to endure, to forbear, and to forgive.
Through faith in Christ, every deficiency of character may be
supplied, every defilement cleansed, every fault corrected, every
"Ye are complete in Him." Colossians 2:10.
Prayer and faith are closely allied, and they need to be studied
together. In the prayer of faith there is a divine science; it is a
science that everyone who would make his lifework a success must
understand. Christ says, "What things soever ye desire, when ye
pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them." Mark
11:24. He makes it plain that our asking must be according to God's
will; we must ask for the things that He has promised, and whatever we
receive must be used in doing His will. The conditions met, the promise
For the pardon of sin, for the Holy Spirit, for a Christlike temper,
for wisdom and strength to do His work, for any gift He has promised, we
may ask; then we are to believe that we receive, and return thanks to
God that we have received.
We need look for no outward evidence of the blessing. The gift is in
the promise, and we may go about our work assured that what God has
promised He is able to perform, and that the gift, which we already
possess, will be realized when we need it most.
To live thus by the word of God means the surrender to Him of the
whole life. There will be felt a continual sense of need and dependence,
a drawing out of the heart after God. Prayer is a necessity; for it is
the life of the soul. Family prayer, public prayer, have their place;
but it is secret communion with God that sustains the soul life.
It was in the mount with God that Moses beheld the pattern of that
wonderful building which was to be the abiding place of His glory. It is
in the mount with God --in the secret place of communion--that we are to
contemplate His glorious ideal for humanity. Thus we shall be enabled so
to fashion our character building that to us may be fulfilled His
promise, "I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be
their God, and they shall be My people." 2 Corinthians 6:16.
It was in hours of solitary prayer that Jesus in His earth life
received wisdom and power. Let the youth follow His example in finding
at dawn and twilight a quiet season for communion with their Father in
heaven. And throughout the day let them lift up their hearts to God. At
every step of our way He says, "I the Lord thy God will hold thy
right hand, . . . Fear not; I will help thee." Isaiah 41:13. Could
our children learn these lessons in the morning of their years, what
freshness and power, what joy and sweetness, would be brought into their
These are lessons that only he who himself has learned can teach. It
is because so many parents and teachers profess to believe the word of
God while their lives deny its power, that the teaching of Scripture has
no greater effect upon the youth. At times the youth are brought to feel
the power of the word. They see the preciousness of the love of Christ.
They see the beauty of His character, the possibilities of a life given
to His service. But in contrast they see the life of those who profess
to revere God's precepts. Of how many are the words true that were
spoken to the prophet Ezekiel:
Thy people "speak one to another, everyone to his brother,
saying, Come, I pray you, and hear what is the word that cometh forth
from the Lord. And they come unto thee as the people cometh, and they
sit before thee as My people, and they hear thy words, but they will not
do them: for with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth
after their covetousness. And, lo, thou art unto them as a very lovely
song of one that hath a pleasant voice, and can play well on an
instrument: for they hear thy words, but they do them not." Ezekiel
It is one thing to treat the Bible as a book of good moral
instruction, to be heeded so far as is consistent with the spirit of the
times and our position in the world; it is another thing to regard it as
it really is--the word of the living God, the word that is our life, the
word that is to mould our actions, our words, and our thoughts. To hold
God's word as anything less than this is to reject it. And this
rejection by those who profess to believe it, is foremost among the
causes of skepticism and infidelity in the youth.
An intensity such as never before was seen is taking possession of
the world. In amusement, in moneymaking, in the contest for power, in
the very struggle for existence, there is a terrible force that
engrosses body and mind and soul. In the midst of this maddening rush,
God is speaking. He bids us come apart and commune with Him. "Be
still, and know that I am God." Psalm 46:10.
Many, even in their seasons of devotion, fail of receiving the
blessing of real communion with God. They are in too great haste. With
hurried steps they press through the circle of Christ's loving presence,
pausing perhaps a moment within the sacred precincts, but not waiting
for counsel. They have no time to remain with the divine Teacher. With
their burdens they return to their work.
These workers can never attain the highest success until they learn
the secret of strength. They must give themselves time to think, to
pray, to wait upon God for a renewal of physical, mental, and spiritual
power. They need the uplifting influence of His Spirit. Receiving this,
they will be quickened by fresh life. The wearied frame and tired brain
will be refreshed, the burdened heart will be lightened.
Not a pause for a moment in His presence, but personal contact with
Christ, to sit down in companionship with Him--this is our need. Happy
will it be for the children of our homes and the students of our schools
when parents and teachers shall learn in their own lives the precious
experience pictured in these words from the Song of Songs:
"As the apple tree among the trees of the wood,
So is my Beloved among the sons.
I sat down under His shadow with great delight,
And His fruit was sweet to my taste.
He brought me to the banqueting house,
And His banner over me was love." Canticles 2:3, 4.
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