January 17, 2004 – January 23, 2004
“Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Jeremiah 33:3.
Suggested Reading: The Desire of Ages, 356, 357; Gospel Workers, 112–114.
“We have too little faith. We limit the Holy One of Israel. We should be grateful that God condescends to use any of us as His instruments. For every earnest prayer put up in faith for anything, answers will be returned. They may not come just as we have expected; but they will come—not perhaps as we have devised, but at the very time when we most need them. But, oh, how sinful is our unbelief!” Christian Experience and Teachings of Ellen G. White, 215.
1 For what purpose were the experiences of Bible characters recorded? Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11.
note: “The repeated murmurings of the Israelites, and the visitations of God’s wrath because of their transgressions, are recorded in sacred history for the benefit of God’s people who should afterward live upon the earth, but more especially to prove a warning to those who should live near the close of time. Also their acts of devotion, their energy and liberality in bringing their free-will offerings to Moses are recorded for the benefit of the people of God. Their example in preparing material for the tabernacle so cheerfully is an example for all who truly love the worship of God.” The Story of Redemption, 152.
“Not alone for men in positions of large responsibility is the lesson of Elijah’s experience in learning anew how to trust God in the hour of trial.” Prophets and Kings, 175.
“Men whom God favored, and to whom He entrusted great responsibilities, were sometimes overcome by temptation and committed sin, even as we at the present day strive, waver, and frequently fall into error. Their lives, with all their faults and follies, are open before us, both for our encouragement and warning.” Patriarchs and Prophets, 238.
“The errors, sins, and vile apostasies of some, who had been the consecrated and favored servants of God, are dwelt upon in Sacred History at length, as a warning to after generations.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 3, v. 2.
2 What assurance is given those who call upon the Lord in trouble? Psalms 50:15; 107:4–6.
note: “If the Hebrews had continued to obey God after they left Egypt, and had kept his righteous law, he would have gone before them and prospered them, and made them always a terror to the heathen nations around them. But they so often followed their own rebellious hearts, and departed from God, and went into idolatry, that he suffered them to be overcome by other nations, to humble and punish them. When in their affliction they cried unto God, he always heard them, and raised them up a ruler to deliver them from their enemies.” Spiritual Gifts, vol. 4a, 66.
3 What can we learn from the prayers of Godly men? Nehemiah 1:4–11; Daniel 9:3–5.
note: “Nehemiah humbled himself before God, giving Him the glory due unto His name. Thus also did Daniel in Babylon. Let us study the prayers of these men. They teach us that we are to humble ourselves, but that we are never to obliterate the line of demarcation between God’s commandment-keeping people and those who have no respect for His law.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1136.
4 How did God open the way for Nehemiah’s work? Nehemiah 2:1–6.
note: “He [Nehemiah] had a sacred trust to fulfill, in which he required help from the king; and he realized that much depended upon his presenting the matter in such a way as to win his [the king’s] approval and enlist his aid. ‘I prayed,’ he said, ‘to the God of heaven.’ [Nehemiah 2:4.] In that brief prayer Nehemiah pressed into the presence of the King of kings and won to his side a power that can turn hearts as the rivers of waters are turned.” Prophets and Kings, 631.
“Nehemiah did not regard his duty as done when he had mourned and wept and prayed before the Lord. He did not only pray. He worked, mingling petition and endeavor.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 346.
5 For what did Elijah pray? Why did his prayer so effectively alter the course of nature? James 5:17, 18.
note: “Elijah’s prayer was answered. Oft-repeated appeals, remonstrances, and warnings had failed to bring Israel to repentance. The time had come when God must speak to them by means of judgments. Inasmuch as the worshipers of Baal claimed that the treasures of heaven, the dew and the rain, came not from Jehovah, but from the ruling forces of nature, and that it was through the creative energy of the sun that the earth was enriched and made to bring forth abundantly, the curse of God was to rest heavily upon the polluted land. The apostate tribes of Israel were to be shown the folly of trusting to the power of Baal for temporal blessings. Until they should turn to God with repentance, and acknowledge Him as the source of all blessing, there should fall upon the land neither dew nor rain.” Prophets and Kings, 119, 120.
6 During Elijah’s experience at Mount Carmel, why did not the rain come immediately after his first prayer? 1 Kings 18:17–45; Psalm 26:2.
note: “Important lessons are presented to us in the experience of Elijah. When upon Mount Carmel he offered the prayer for rain, his faith was tested, but he persevered in making known his request unto God. Six times he prayed earnestly, and yet there was no sign that his petition was granted, but with strong faith he urged his plea to the throne of grace. Had he given up in discouragement at the sixth time, his prayer would not have been answered, but he persevered till the answer came. We have a God whose ear is not closed to our petitions; and if we prove his word, he will honor our faith. He wants us to have all our interests interwoven with his interests, and then he can safely bless us; for we shall not then take glory to self when the blessing is ours, but shall render all the praise to God. God does not always answer our prayers the first time we call upon him; for should he do this, we might take it for granted that we had a right to all the blessings and favors he bestowed upon us. Instead of searching our hearts to see if any evil was entertained by us, any sin indulged, we would become careless, and fail to realize our dependence upon him, and our need of his help.” Review and Herald, June 9, 1891.
7 How important was prayer to the prophet Daniel? Daniel 6:4–10.
note: “Morning, noon, and at night Daniel prayed to his God, notwithstanding the king’s decree, and the fearful den of lions. He was not ashamed, or afraid to pray, but with his windows opened he prayed three times a day. Did God forget his faithful servant when he was cast into the lion’s den? O, No. He was with him there all night. He closed the mouths of these hungry lions, and they could not hurt the praying man of God.” The Youth’s Instructor, October 1, 1855.
8 What were Isaiah’s concerns when he was called by God, and how was he strengthened by communion with the Almighty? Isaiah 6:5–8.
note: “Never before had Isaiah realized so fully the greatness of Jehovah or His perfect holiness; and he felt that in his human frailty and unworthiness he must perish in that divine presence. . . . But a seraph came to him to fit him for his great mission. A living coal from the altar was laid upon his lips . . . and when the voice of God was heard saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Isaiah with holy confidence responded, ‘Here am I; send me.’ [Isaish 6:8.] . . .
“[Isaiah] had seen the King, the Lord of hosts; he had heard the song of the seraphim, ‘The whole earth is full of His glory’ [Isaiah 6:3]; and the prophet was nerved for the work before him. The memory of this vision was carried with him throughout his long and arduous mission.” Testimonies, vol. 5, 750, 751.
9 During the time Jonah was neglecting his duty to God, what serious warning must we heed from his experience? Jonah 1:1–12.
note: “The prayers of the man [Jonah] who had turned aside from the path of duty brought no help.” Prophets and Kings, 267.
10 What does Jonah’s experience teach of God’s delight in the prayers of the penitent? Jonah 2:1–10; 3:4–10.
note: “At last Jonah had learned that ‘salvation belongeth unto the Lord.’ Psalm 3:8. With penitence and a recognition of the saving grace of God, came deliverance. Jonah was released from the perils of the mighty deep and was cast upon the dry land.
“Once more the servant of God was commissioned to warn Nineveh. ‘The word of the Lord came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee.’ [Jonah 3:1, 2.] This time he did not stop to question or doubt, but obeyed unhesitatingly.” Prophets and Kings, 269, 270.
11 What invitation does God extend to each of us? Jeremiah 33:3.
note: “Our prayers for conformity to the image of Christ may not be answered exactly as we desire. We may be tested and proved, for God sees it best to put us under a course of discipline which is essential for us before we are fit subjects for the blessing we crave. We should not become discouraged and give way to doubt, and think that our prayers are not noticed. We should rely more securely upon Christ and leave our case with God to answer our prayers in His own way. God has not promised to bestow His blessings through the channels we have marked out. God is too wise to err and too regardful of our good to allow us to choose for ourselves.” The Upward Look, 109.
12 Under all circumstances, what promise may the righteous claim? Psalm 34:17.
note: “Our God has heaven and earth at His command, and He knows just what we need. We can see only a little way before us; ‘but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.’ Hebrews 4:13. Above the distractions of the earth He sits enthroned; all things are open to His divine survey; and from His great and calm eternity He orders that which His providence sees best.” Testimonies, vol. 8, 272, 273.
These lessons are adapted from the Sabbath School Lesson Quarterly, Pacific Press Publishing Association, Mountain View, California, April 1912.