Last December I spent two weeks at one our more conservative Adventist schools. I must confess, I observed and was troubled by some behavior of both the staff and students. Quite honestly, it irritated me to no end.
THEY PRAYED FOR EVERYTHING
I had never seen people pray like this before. Let me give some examples. I thought it was strange when a staff member prayed that God would be with us as we went shopping so that we could find what we need at the prices that we could afford. Next, I couldn’t believe it when a student prayed that God would be with us as we exercised, that it would be beneficial to our bodies, that it would strengthen us and that we would not get hurt.
Of course, I wasn’t surprised at mealtime when the students asked God to cause the food to give nourishment and strength to our bodies. But later, when I took the opportunity to get a hair cut from one of the students who is a barber, I couldn’t believe what I heard. Just before he cut my hair, you guessed it, he prayed that God would be with him, that he would do a good job and that we would have godly conversation.
I admit this was a new experience for me, to pray about everything like this. I mean, are we incapable of finding the right products, at affordable prices? Doesn’t exercise naturally impart strength to one’s body? Isn’t injury preventable by utilizing a little common sense? Doesn’t a high quality vegan diet naturally provide nourishment to the body? And do we really need to request the presence of God while getting our hair done?
Like I said, all these prayers irritated me. A lot. I couldn’t understand why they kept praying about everything like this. However, the more I thought about it over the next few days, I came to realize that prayer like this might be the key to the faith that we profess as Adventists.
LET ME EXPLAIN
You see, as Adventists, we believe that “sanctification is obtained only in obedience to the will of God” (Ellen White, Faith and Works, 29). Therefore, unless we are obeying God’s commandments, the sanctification process (where God writes His law on our hearts) cannot take place. However, we also believe that we cannot obey God’s law by our own strength. (KJV, Romans 7:24-25, 29).
The question then becomes: How do I access the power of God to keep His commandments so that I can be sanctified through obedience? The answer is simple, though perhaps not always so obvious: We can access this power by asking for it in prayer.
Two scriptures come to mind. First, there is 1 John 5:14-15 which says “this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him”. In Jude we read “Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy” (verse 24).
A simple prayer then, first asking God to give me strength to keep from falling (Jude 24) and then believing that I have received this request (1 John 5:14-15), gives me access to the power of God to keep His commandments so that I can be sanctified by obedience to His will. How do we keep God’s commandments? Not on our own, but by His power. How do we access this power? By asking for it in prayer and believing that we have received what we have asked for because this request is in accordance with His will.
APPLYING THE PRINCIPLE
Let’s look at this biblical principle a little closer. Let me illustrate this by applying it to the area of healthful living. I would venture to guess that the most misapplied principle of the eight principles of health included in the NEWSTART acronym is that last one, Trust in God. In my experience I have seen people on one extreme, who presumptuously trust in God by disregarding what they eat, drink or how much exercise they get. The other extreme is followed by those who have a high quality vegan diet, sleep with open windows, and drink 10 glasses of water a day, yet fail to realize that it is in God that they “live and move and have [their] being” (Acts 17:28).
There is a solution to these extreme views of the health principles. It is found in a correct understanding of the role of faith and works and the privilege of constant prayer. Yes, the privilege of constant prayer. You see, we cannot keep all the health principles on our own. We need the power of God. Yet, we realize we must keep these health laws if we want to be in full health. The answer to our problem is that we can keep them if we ask God in prayer for the power to do so, and by faith believe that we have received that power. Furthermore, we ask Him to impart health to our bodies because He is the giver of health, and by following the health laws we are in a place where He can impart health to our bodies.
Now you can see how I have changed my attitude towards praying for the little things. I now see a deeper relationship between prayer and a sanctified life. I am slowly adopting this practice of requesting the presence and the assistance of God in yes, the so-called little things. It is by praying for the seemingly insignificant things that I am learning to depend upon God more and more every day.
By being in a constant state of prayer we learn that our best efforts are nothing compared with the power that He provides. So too, such faith in little things will translate to faith in the bigger things.
May God be with us, giving us strength to keep His commandments and may He sanctify us wholly and may our whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).