For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. Matthew 6:8.
Jesus Himself, while He dwelt among men, was often in prayer. Our Saviour identified Himself with our needs and weakness, in that He became a suppliant, a petitioner, seeking from His Father fresh supplies of strength, that He might come forth braced for duty and trial. He is our example in all things. He is a brother in our infirmities, “in all points tempted like as we are;” but as the sinless one, His nature recoiled from evil; He endured struggles and torture of soul in a world of sin. His humanity made prayer a necessity and a privilege. He found comfort and joy in communion with His Father. And if the Saviour of men, the Son of God, felt the need of prayer, how much more should feeble, sinful mortals feel the necessity of fervent, constant prayer.
Our heavenly Father waits to bestow upon us the fullness of His blessing. It is our privilege to drink largely at the fountain of boundless love. What a wonder it is that we pray so little! God is ready and willing to hear the sincere prayer of the humblest of His children, and yet there is much manifest reluctance on our part to make known our wants to God. What can the angels of heaven think of poor helpless human beings, who are subject to temptation, when God’s heart of infinite love yearns toward them, ready to give them more than they can ask or think, and yet they pray so little, and have so little faith.—Steps to Christ, 94.
Prayer is the opening of the heart to God as to a friend. Not that it is necessary, in order to make known to God what we are, but in order to enable us to receive Him. Prayer does not bring God down to us, but brings us up to Him.—Steps to Christ, 93.
With God at Dawn p. 188
July reminds me of July 2006, when my mother was taken to the emergency room because of shortness of breath. As soon as we could, Ron and I rushed to her side. She was very miserable. Two chest x-rays taken an hour apart showed that her lungs were filling up quickly. Her bronchitis had turned to pneumonia. Her already failing kidneys were also on a rapid decline. She drifted in and out of sleep.
As we were sitting there watching the monitor, things did not look good. I’ve seen enough EKG’s to know that her heart was not beating as it should. It was much too shallow and rapid. As long as she was getting oxygen, that sensor showed ok, but the minute she was without it, her oxygen saturation declined to dangerous levels. Her breathing was uneven and rapid. Finally, we left to get some rest. The last words I heard her say was “Pray for me.” and “I love you.”
During the night, I kept waking up expecting to get a phone call from the hospital. When morning came and the dreaded call had not come, I began to hope that she would recover. Ronnie Jay dropped me off at work on his way to his job. We made plans to go to visit my mother as soon as we got out of work that afternoon. How soon our plans changed. A few minutes after I started working, the nurse at the hospital called. She told me that my mother had “taken a turn for the worse” and that I needed to come there right away as she was not going to live much longer. Her pulse was down to 30 and her lips were blue. I immediately called Ron to come and get me. Then I called Ronnie Jay.
My mind went back to a time, years ago, when we had all stood around the bedside of Ron’s mother and had the agony of watching her death. That was a horrible experience for the whole family. As I was waiting for Ronnie Jay to come and get me, I was talking to the Great Life-Giver about it. I told Him that I didn’t want to have to go through the experience of watching my mother die. I just couldn’t handle it. He answered my prayer. My mother died before we got to the hospital.
How comforting it is to be able to turn to God’s Holy Word for strength, comfort, and the truth about death and the resurrection to come. Jesus called death a sleep. “He saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.” John 11:11-14. When we are asleep there is no awareness of the passing of time. When we sleep a deep sleep, before we know it, it is morning. So it is in death.
Death is not forever! The dead shall live again! Jesus assures us, “Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.” John 5:28, 29
Job gives us insight into this subject, “As the cloud is consumed and vanisheth away: so he that goeth down to the grave shall come up no more. He shall return no more to his house, neither shall his place know him any more.” “But man dieth, and wasteth away: yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? As the waters fail from the sea, and the flood decayeth and drieth up: So man lieth down, and riseth not: till the heavens be no more, they shall not awake, nor be raised out of their sleep. O that thou wouldest hide me in the grave, that thou wouldest keep me secret, until thy wrath be past, that thou wouldest appoint me a set time, and remember me! If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come.” “For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” Job 7:9, 10; 12:10-14; 19:25 Isaiah had also this hope, “Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the LORD cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” Isa 26:19-21
Paul also speaks of resurrection, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”1 Cor 15:51-55 When will this trumpet sound? He gives answer, “For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thes 4:16-18 Peter pinpoints this great day, “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?” 2 Peter 3:10-12
What a glorious day that will be! May we, whether awake or asleep when Jesus comes, be ready for that grand event. May we with joy exclaim, “Lo, this is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: this is the LORD; we have waited for him, we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.” Isa 25:9
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