Thursday, May 14, 2015

Lesson 7: Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Prayer

Sabbath School Today

With the 1888 Message Dynamic

The Book of Luke

Lesson 7: Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and Prayer

The dynamic 1888 principle this week is the most basic of all--it is taking the word of God as it reads and letting it mean what is says; we believe that God says what He means and means what He says. This is the first principle of the 1888 message that I learned and it has never failed me in reading and understanding the Scriptures.

The Lord's Prayer is the only prayer that was ever written by a divine being for man. There are no circumstances or conditions in life that are not covered by this petition.

Ellet J. Waggoner demonstrates this principle by giving us a study on what is in the Lord's Prayer according to the Scriptures. The entire study is too lengthy to print here, so I have given a short sample of each line in the prayer, and website links at the end where you will find the complete articles, which you can download.

"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name" [1]
What tenderness is expressed in those words! What infinite condescension it reveals on the part of God to allow poor, frail mortals to address Him thus. His greatness is unsearchable and His ways past finding out. Before Him, all the nations "are as nothing, and they are counted by Him less than nothing and worthless" (Isa. 40:15–17). He walks "on the wings of the wind" (Psalm 104:3); He "has His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet" (Nahum 1:3). And yet this awful God has the tenderness of a parent, and His ear is open to the supplications of those who whisper, even in faintest accents, "Our Father"; for we are told that "as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him" (Psalm 103:13). He has assured us that He dwells with him "who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones" (Isa. 57:15). Thus the first words of the Lord's Prayer bring us into the most intimate relation with the great Creator.

We also find that the expression in the Lord's Prayer, "in heaven," stands for recognition of the power, the majesty, the omnipotence, and the omniscience of God. All these things should be borne in mind when we approach the throne of grace. This thought will tend to produce reverence and awe. Multiplication of words and "vain repetitions," for which Christ condemned the heathen, arise from the fact that the petitioner thinks more of himself than he does of the One whom he is addressing. But the God whom we worship sits upon the circle of the heavens, and he who has a just sense of His greatness will come with reverence into His presence, and will confine his words to just the things which he needs.

"Your kingdom come" [2]
In this brief petition is contained one of the most comprehensive requests ever made by mortal man.

Thus we learn that to pray, "Your kingdom come," is to pray for the coming of the Lord to destroy the wicked, and to cleanse the earth of everything that defiles, and to give immortality to His people. God is no respecter of persons. Whosoever shall not be found written in the book of life shall be cast into the lake of fire (Rev. 20:15). It will avail nothing that men have said, "Lord, Lord,"--that they have prayed earnestly, even praying for the kingdom of God to come, if in that day any defilement is found in them, they will be cast into the lake of fire. How carefully and blameless we must live if we are able to unite, in saying, "Even so, come, Lord Jesus!" (Rev. 22:20).

"Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven" [3]
It is probable that this part of the Lord's Prayer is the least understood of any. The sentence, "Your will be done," is thought by most people to be applicable only in cases of sickness or other trial, to indicate that the sufferer is willing to endure patiently. But this is but a very limited view of the expression.

The Ten Commandments are the will of God.

"Give us day by day our daily bread" [4]
Nothing less than divine wisdom could have framed this petition, so simple and so reasonable is it.

Solomon understood the principle here when he asks only to have what is needed for just today: "Give me neither poverty nor riches--feed me with the food allotted to me; lest I be full and deny You, and say, "Who is the Lord?" Or lest I be poor and steal, and profane the name of my God" (Prov. 30:7–9).

This petition teaches contentment. The sacrifice of Christ is the pledge of God's care for us. "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?" (Rom. 8:32).

"And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us" [5]
This may be called the crowning petition in this wonderful prayer.

To be able always to pray understandingly and from the heart, "And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us," is something that can be done by, but comparatively few who profess to be, Christians. The one who can do it is in possession of the greatest of all Christian graces--love.

It has been truly said that to forgive is divine. Certainly it is not human. Human nature knows nothing of forgiveness.

It is not natural for us to do this [forgive]; we can do it only when we are partakers of the divine nature. It may be said that God does not actually forgive men until they repent. This is true; but He desires that they shall receive His pardon, and therefore, so far as He is concerned, He has pardoned them. All that is lacking is for them to accept the pardon which He gives them; if they will not, He is clear, and the responsibility of their ruin rests upon themselves.

This brings us to another feature of forgiveness. It is very common for people to say that they can forgive but they cannot forget. That is not true forgiveness. We must forget that he ever injured us. We must treat him and regard him as though he had done us nothing but good instead of nothing but evil.

"And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one" [6]
This petition cannot well be considered apart from that which immediately follows it: "but deliver us from the evil one." Both together form a fitting climax to this wonderful prayer, for they indicate, if used understandingly, the soul's desire for purity of heart.

There can be but one conclusion, and that is that this prayer implies a renunciation and hatred of sin, and a desire to have the heart cleansed from it, and to be strengthened again not allowing it [the sin] to pass the shield of faith, and gain access to the heart. This is the only way that temptations can be instantly repelled, since, as we have read, evil thoughts are natural to the human heart.

It was to effect this that Christ came into the earth. It is not enough that we be freed from the guilt of sin,--from past transgressions,--but we must be freed from the love of sin.

The petition "do not lead us into temptation" must be understood as meaning, "'Do not, O Lord, suffer us to be overcome when assailed by temptation.' Watch and pray lest ye enter into temptation. There is a difference between being tempted, and entering into temptation." [7]

I pray that this brief introduction to the Lord's Prayer has given you an appetite for the entire study and the "hands on" experience of seeing the simple, yet profound dynamic of the 1888 message as it takes from the Word of God what was intended by the Word of God. We speak about God's hearing us, when the question really is whether or not we hear God.

Some additional interesting quotations from Waggoner's study on prayer:

"Our asking is not to make Him willing to give, but to show our willingness to receive."

"True prayer is simply the thankful acceptance of God's free gifts."

"God does not weary us by keeping us waiting--this is why we can always pray and not faint."

--Daniel Peters


The Lord' Prayer

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[1] Ellet J. Waggoner, The Signs of the Times, Feb. 24, 1887, and March 3, 1887.
[2] Ibid., March 10, 1887.
[3] Ibid., March 24, 1887.
[4] Ibid., March 31, 1887.
[5] Ibid., May 5, 1887.
[6] Ibid., May 19, 1887.
[7] Ellen G. White, Manuscript Releases, vol. 8, p. 308.

Raul Diaz