The A B Cs of Prayer:
Prayer and Faith
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 is unequivocal.
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. Education 258.
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. Education 253-254.
The Science of Prayer
The method of claiming Bible promises is summed up in the book "Education," pages 253 and 258.
A—Ask: Matthew 7:7. "For any gift He has promised, we may ask."
B—Believe: Mark 11:22-24. "Then we are to believe that we receive."
C—Claim: John 11:41. Then we are to "return thanks to God that we have received."
Why return thanks that we have received? Because:
1. The word of God is seed. Luke 8:11.
2. The seed contains not merely the component elements of the tree,
but the tree itself. "The oak is in the acorn." Education, p. 253.
Rutherford Platt, a prize-winner in science, states in his book "This Green World," that a trunk, two leaves and roots are already contained in the embryo of the seed, and that with a powerful magnifying glass they could be seen.
3. Therefore, "If we receive the promise, we have the gift." Education, p. 253.
"The gift is in the promise." Id., p. 258.
"One sentence of Scripture is of more value than ten thousand of man's ideas or arguments." Testimonies, Vol. 7, p. 71.
So with your Bible in your hands say, “I have done as Thou hast said. I Present Thy promise.” Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 146.
Remember, the condition to victory is to Ask, Believe, and Claim by receiving. So, take the book of promises right in your hands as you pray.
Then do as Augustine's mother did, "She laid her finger upon the texts, presenting before God His own words, and pleaded as only a mother can, and the Lord gave her the desire of her heart." Testimonies, Vol. 5, pp. 322, 323.
You and I though utterly unworthy, may do the same. We may place our fingers right on the promise of a living, true, almighty, wise, loving, and willing God. Then we are to tell Him—there on our knees—that WE BELIEVE, and HAVE RECEIVED the gift promised. We can tell Him we know we shall realize the fulfillment when we need it most. But now we accept it by simple, living faith.
Arising—from our knees we may continue, in our hearts, asking, believing and claiming exultantly what God has promised.
If—we are but willing to conform to the conditions: "That thy trust may be in the Lord, I have made known to thee this day, even to thee." Proverbs 22:19.
"If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?" Luke 11:13.
1. Think of God looking for someone to aid.
"For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect [or, sincerely fixed] toward him." 2 Chronicles 16:9.
2. Let us look to Calvary and capture the true picture of God.
"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?" Romans 8:32.
3. Think of God as often giving us something better than we ask.
"I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known; ... and not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16.
So for us to picture God as saying, "No, period!" is misrepresenting Him. God never says to His believing child, "No, period." He may sometimes say, "No, comma," meaning, "You are not asking for one quarter as much as I want to give you!"
“Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us,” Ephesians 3:20.
Here we see a picture of God as being eager to do so much more for us than we ask, that our asking appears pitifully short of what He wants to give us.
4. Think of God as truthful.
"God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent: hath he said, and shall he not do it? or hath he spoken, and shall he not make it good?" Numbers 23:19.
A minister, who read the Old Testament Scriptures through 69 times and the New Testament Scriptures 71 times, discovered at least 3,573 promises there. Others claim to have found more, even up to 7,000 or 8,000.
Hebrews 6:18 declares that it is impossible for God to lie.
5. Think of God as powerful enough to bring solutions.
"By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth. . . For he spake, and it was." Psalm 33:6,9.
"Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God." Hebrews 11:3.
(1) Romans 4:17, "God, . . . calleth those things which be not as though they were."
(2) Psalm 33:9, "He spake, and it was."
Putting the two passages of Scripture together, it says, in effect, that anything that does not exist, does exist the moment God's creative word names it. This is our creator God.
6. God requires of us childlike faith.
"Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 18:3.
7. We are to visualize the solution.
Jesus taught us to offer a prayer that asks, believes, and then actually receives, or claims, the solution without doubting, because what God says is so, even though our own minds cannot comprehend it all.
8. Claiming God's creative promises.
"Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." 2 Peter 1:4.
"Create in me a clean heart, 0 God; and renew a right spirit within me." Psalm 51:10.
"Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you." John 15:3.