October 28, 2012 – November 3, 2012
The Power of Prayer
“For whether is greater, he that sitteth at meat, or he that serveth? is not he that sitteth at meat? but I am among you as he that serveth.” Luke 22:27.
Study Help: Christ’s Object Lessons, 139–149; The Ministry of Healing, 497–502.
“Our prayers are not to be a selfish asking, merely for our own benefit. We are to ask that we may give.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 142.
1 PRAYING TO SERVE
- How did the longing of Hannah reflect a desire to serve? I Samuel 1:1–11.
- In what ways are we all to learn and be encouraged by God’s answer to Hannah’s prayer? I Samuel 1:19, 20, 27, 28; 2:18–21, 26.
Note: “During the first three years of the life of Samuel the prophet, his mother carefully taught him to distinguish between good and evil. … Though Samuel’s youth was passed at the tabernacle devoted to the worship of God, he was not free from evil influences or sinful example. The sons of Eli feared not God, nor honored their father; but Samuel did not seek their company nor follow their evil ways. His early training led him to choose to maintain his Christian integrity. What a reward was Hannah’s! and what an encouragement to faithfulness is her example!” The Review and Herald, September 8, 1904.
“When separated from her child, the faithful mother’s solicitude did not cease. He was the subject of her prayers. … She did not ask that he might be great, but earnestly pleaded that he might be good. Her faith and devotion were rewarded. She saw her son, in the simplicity of childhood, walking in the love and fear of God. She saw him growing up to manhood in favor with God and man, humble, reverent, prompt in duty, and earnest in the service of his divine Master.” The Signs of the Times, November 3, 1881.
2 LEARNING FROM SOLOMON
- Why was Solomon’s desire for wisdom rewarded by God? I Kings 3:5–15.
Note: “Solomon realized that he lacked discernment. It was his great need that led him to seek God for wisdom. In his heart there was no selfish aspiration for a knowledge that would exalt him above his brethren.” The Review and Herald, October 26, 1905.
- How did Solomon’s attitude contrast with that of the rich young ruler to whom Jesus presented a practical test? Luke 18:18–23.
Note: “The Lord said, because he [Solomon] had not asked for temporal riches or for worldly honor, he should have not only the blessing of wisdom, but riches and honor also. One who has heavenly wisdom is prepared to make a right use of the talents and means which God has given him. All the talents and ability he may possess will not lead him to forget the Giver. There is danger of some … being self-deceived, as was the young man: [Luke 18:18, 21, 22 quoted]. … This practical test unfolded to the deceived young man his supreme selfishness. His deficiency of character spoiled all his virtues.” The Signs of the Times, February 14, 1878.
- What can all kinds of leaders learn from Solomon? Proverbs 20:28.
Note: “All who occupy responsible positions need to learn the lesson that is taught in Solomon’s humble prayer. They are ever to remember that position will never change the character or render man infallible. The higher the position a man occupies, the greater the responsibility he has to bear, the wider will be the influence he exerts and the greater his need to feel his dependence on the wisdom and strength of God and to cultivate the best and most holy character. Those who accept a position of responsibility in the cause of God should always remember that with the call to this work God has also called them to walk circumspectly before Him and before their fellow men. Instead of considering it their duty to order and dictate and command, they should realize that they are to be learners themselves. When a responsible worker fails to learn this lesson, the sooner he is released from his responsibilities the better it will be for him and for the work of God.” Testimonies, vol. 9, 282, 283.
3 THE EXAMPLE OF CHRIST
- What was the theme of Christ’s life on earth? Isaiah 50:4; Matthew 20:28.
Note: “Not for Himself, but for others, He [Christ] lived and thought and prayed. From hours spent with God He came forth morning by morning, to bring the light of heaven to men. Daily He received a fresh baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the early hours of the new day the Lord awakened Him from His slumbers, and His soul and His lips were anointed with grace, that He might impart to others. His words were given Him fresh from the heavenly courts, words that He might speak in season to the weary and oppressed.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 139.
- What do we learn from Christ’s aim to maintain a sanctified life? John 17:19.
Note: “Christ’s lessons in regard to prayer should be carefully considered. There is a divine science in prayer, and His illustration brings to view principles that all need to understand. He shows what is the true spirit of prayer, He teaches the necessity of perseverance in presenting our requests to God, and assures us of His willingness to hear and answer prayer. …
“The principle of Christ’s life must be the principle of our lives. … Our mission to the world is not to serve or please ourselves; we are to glorify God by co-operating with Him to save sinners. We are to ask blessings from God that we may communicate to others. The capacity for receiving is preserved only by imparting. We cannot continue to receive heavenly treasure without communicating to those around us.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 142, 143.
“We are engaged in a great work, and there are many opportunities for service in various lines. Let all pray earnestly that God may guide them into the right channels of service. God’s workmen should not neglect any opportunity to help others in every possible way. If they seek God unselfishly for counsel, His word, which bringeth salvation, will lead them.” Testimonies to Ministers and Gospel Workers, 497.
“God’s servants are to stand as minutemen, ready for service at a moment’s notice. My brethren, from hour to hour opportunities to serve God will open before you. These constantly come and go. Be ever ready to make the most of them. That chance to speak in the hearing of some needy soul the word of life may never again offer itself.” Gospel Workers, 195.
4 BREAD OF LIFE TO SHARE
- With what parable does Christ teach of perseverance in prayer? Luke 11:5–8.
Note: “In the parable [of the friend calling at midnight] the petitioner was again and again repulsed, but he did not relinquish his purpose. So our prayers do not always seem to receive an immediate answer; but Christ teaches that we should not cease to pray. Prayer is not to work any change in God; it is to bring us into harmony with God. When we make request of Him, He may see that it is necessary for us to search our hearts and repent of sin. Therefore He takes us through test and trial, He brings us through humiliation, that we may see what hinders the working of His Holy Spirit through us.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 143.
“Many have not a living faith. This is why they do not see more of the power of God. … They take themselves into their own keeping. They plan and devise, but pray little, and have little real trust in God. They think they have faith, but it is only the impulse of the moment. Failing to realize their own need, or God’s willingness to give, they do not persevere in keeping their requests before the Lord.
“Our prayers are to be as earnest and persistent as was the petition of the needy friend who asked for the loaves at midnight. The more earnestly and steadfastly we ask, the closer will be our spiritual union with Christ. We shall receive increased blessings because we have increased faith.” Ibid., 145, 146.
- How much is promised us when our desire is to serve others? Luke 6:38.
Note: “In the parable, he who asks bread for the stranger, receives ‘as many as he needeth’ [Luke 11:18]. And in what measure will God impart to us that we may impart to others? ‘According to the measure of the gift of Christ.’ Ephesians 4:7. Angels are watching with intense interest to see how man is dealing with his fellow men. When they see one manifest Christlike sympathy for the erring, they press to his side and bring to his remembrance words to speak that will be as the bread of life to the soul. … Your testimony in its genuineness and reality He will make powerful in the power of the life to come. The word of the Lord will be in your mouth as truth and righteousness.
“Personal effort for others should be preceded by much secret prayer; for it requires great wisdom to understand the science of saving souls. Before communicating with men, commune with Christ. At the throne of heavenly grace obtain a preparation for ministering to the people.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 148, 149.
5 ASKING FOR THE BEST
- What prayer request will bring us the greatest happiness? Luke 11:11–13.
Note: “There is one blessing that all may have who seek for it in the right way. It is the Holy Spirit of God, and this is a blessing that brings all other blessings in its train. If we will come to God as little children, asking for His grace and power and salvation, not for our own uplifting, but that we may bring blessing to those around us, our petitions will not be denied.” In Heavenly Places, 113.
- As we pray to serve, what are some key points to keep in mind? Acts 5:30–32; Philippians 4:19.
Note: “As Christ lived the law in humanity, so we may do if we will take hold of the Strong for strength. But we are not to place the responsibility of our duty upon others, and wait for them to tell us what to do. We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The Lord will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. If we come to Him in faith, He will speak His mysteries to us personally. Our hearts will often burn within us as One draws nigh to commune with us as He did with Enoch. Those who decide to do nothing in any line that will displease God, will know, after presenting their case before Him, just what course to pursue. And they will receive not only wisdom, but strength. Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them, as Christ has promised. Whatever was given to Christ—the ‘all things’ to supply the need of fallen men—was given to Him as the head and representative of humanity. And ‘whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight.’ I John 3:22.” The Desire of Ages, 668.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1 How do the goals of today’s Christian parents differ from Hannah’s?
2 Why should we consider Solomon’s attitude?
3 How can we be ready and equipped to stand as minutemen for God?
4 Why should we continue to ask for the same things?
5 What might be an example of the most important prayer of our entire day?
© 2003 Reformation Herald Publishing Association, Roanoke, Virginia. Reprinted by permission.