Bible Study Guides – The Prayers of the Righteous

November 17, 2012 – November 23, 2012

Key Text

“Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience.” James 5:10.

Study Help: Testimonies, vol. 3, 273–288; The Sanctified Life, 42–52.


“The sincerity of our prayers can be proved only by the vigor of our endeavor to obey God’s commandments.” Counsels on Health, 504.


  • 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,” The Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 3, 1136.

  • 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 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.


  • Why did Elijah’s prayer so effectively alter the course of nature? James 5:17.

Note: “Viewing this [Israel’s] apostasy from his mountain retreat, Elijah was overwhelmed with sorrow. In anguish of soul he besought God to arrest the once-favored people in their wicked course, to visit them with judgments, if need be, that they might be led to see in its true light their departure from Heaven. He longed to see them brought to repentance before they should go to such lengths in evil-doing as to provoke the Lord to destroy them utterly.

“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, 120.

  • Relate Elijah’s experience at Mount Carmel. I Kings 18:17–45; James 5:18.

Note: “He [Elijah] reminds the people of their degeneracy, which has awakened the wrath of God against them, and then calls upon them to humble their hearts and turn to the God of their fathers, that His curse may be removed from them. …

“He then reverentially bows before the unseen God, raises his hands toward heaven, and offers a calm and simple prayer, unattended with violent gestures or contortions of the body. No shrieks resound over Carmel’s height. A solemn silence, which is oppressive to the priests of Baal, rests upon all. In his prayer, Elijah makes use of no extravagant expressions. He prays to Jehovah as though He were nigh, witnessing the whole scene, and hearing his sincere, fervent, yet simple prayer. Baal’s priests have screamed, and foamed, and leaped, and prayed, very long—from morning until near evening. Elijah’s prayer is very short, earnest, reverential, and sincere.” Testimonies, vol. 3, 284, 285.


  • Why didn’t the rain come immediately after Elijah’s first prayer? 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 should become careless, and fail to realize our dependence upon Him, and our need of His help.” The Review and Herald, June 9, 1891.

  • What were Isaiah’s concerns when he was called by God, and how was he strengthened by communion with the Almighty? Isaiah 6:5-7.

Note: “The prophet [Isaiah] 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, 751.

  • 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.

  • What does Jonah’s history also teach of God’s delight in the prayers of the penitent? Jonah 2:1–10; 3:4–10.


  • How important was prayer to the prophet Daniel? Daniel 6:4–10.

Note: “The decree goes forth from the king. Daniel is aware of all that has been done. … But he does not change his course in a single particular.” The Review and Herald, February 8, 1881.

“Have a set time, a special season for prayer at least three times a day. 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.” The Youth’s Instructor, October 1, 1855.

  • What can we learn from Daniel’s prayer for apostate Israel? Daniel 9:4–19.

Note: “The man of God was praying, not for a flight of happy feeling, but for a knowledge of the divine will. And he desired this knowledge, not merely for himself, but for his people. His great burden was for Israel, who were not, in the strictest sense, keeping the law of God. He acknowledges that all their misfortunes have come upon them in consequence of their transgressions of that holy law. … They had lost their peculiar, holy character as God’s chosen people. [Daniel 9:17 quoted.] Daniel’s heart turns with intense longing to the desolate sanctuary of God. He knows that its prosperity can be restored only as Israel shall repent of their transgressions of God’s law, and become humble, and faithful, and obedient.” The Review and Herald, February 8, 1881.

“Daniel’s heart was burdened for the people of God, for the city and temple that were laid waste. His deepest interest was for the honor of God and the prosperity of Israel. It was this that moved him to seek God with prayer and fasting and deep humiliation. Brethren in responsible positions in the Lord’s work for this time, have not we as great need to call upon God as had Daniel? I address those who believe that we are living in the very last period of this earth’s history. I entreat you to take upon your own souls a burden for our churches, our schools, and our institutions. That God who heard Daniel’s prayer will hear ours when we come to Him in contrition. Our necessities are as urgent, our difficulties are as great, and we need to have the same intensity of purpose, and in faith roll our burden upon the great Burden-bearer. There is need for hearts to be as deeply moved in our time as in the time when Daniel prayed.” Ibid., February 9, 1897.


  • What should characterize our prayers today, and why? II Corinthians 6:2.

Note: “In the early stages of this work, there were but few friends of the cause. These servants of God wept and prayed for a clear understanding of the truth. They suffered privations and much self-denial, in order to spread a knowledge of it; and although as the result of much labor but few received the precious message, yet step by step they followed as God’s opening providence led the way. They did not study their own convenience or shrink at hardships. God, through these men, prepared the way, and the truth has been made very plain; yet some who have since embraced the truth have failed to take upon themselves the burden of the work.” The Review and Herald, February 12, 1880.

“God has loaded us with His benefits. Immortal blessings have been poured upon us in great measure. Messengers have been sent with warnings, reproofs, and entreaties. God’s servants have wept and prayed over the lukewarm state of the church. Some may arouse, but only to fall back into unconsciousness of their sin and peril. Passion, worldliness, malice, envy, pride, strife for supremacy, make our churches weak and powerless. … It is still thy day, O church of God, whom He has made the depositary of His law. But this day of trust and probation is fast drawing to a close. The sun is fast westering. … It is time to seek God earnestly, saying with Jacob, ‘I will not let thee go except thou bless me’ [Genesis 32:26]. It will be of no avail to make a spasmodic effort, only to fall back into spiritual lethargy and lukewarmness. The past, with the slighted mercies, the admonitions unheeded, the earthly passions uncorrected, the privileges unimproved, the soul temple filled with desecrated shrines—all is recorded in the books of heaven. But most solemn moments are still before you. Because of past neglect, the efforts you make must be the more earnest.” The Review and Herald, November 2, 1886.


1 How did Nehemiah win the favor of the king?

2 What should we learn from the prayers of the men discussed in this lesson?

3 Why was there a delay before the answer came?

4 Why did Daniel include himself in prayer for Israel?

5 What may be hindering our prayers from being heard?

© 2003 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.