Faith and Works
In praying for the sick, it is essential to have faith; for it is in accordance with the word of God. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” James 5:16. So we cannot discard praying for the sick, and we should feel very sad if we could not have the privilege of approaching God, to lay before Him all our weaknesses and our infirmities, to tell the compassionate Saviour all about these things, believing that He hears our petitions. Sometimes answers to our prayers come immediately; sometimes we have to wait patiently and continue earnestly to plead for the things that we need, our cases being illustrated by the case of the importunate solicitor for bread. “Which of you shall have a friend, and shall go unto him at midnight,” etc. This lesson means more than we can imagine. We are to keep on asking, even if we do not realize the immediate response to our prayers. “I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.” Luke 11:9, 10.
We need grace, we need divine enlightenment, that through the Spirit we may know how to ask for such things as we need. If our petitions are indited by the Lord they will be answered.
There are precious promises in the Scriptures to those who wait upon the Lord. We all desire an immediate answer to our prayers and are tempted to become discouraged if our prayer is not immediately answered. Now, my experience has taught me that this is a great mistake. The delay is for our special benefit. We have a chance to see whether our faith is true and sincere or changeable like the waves of the sea. We must bind ourselves upon the altar with the strong cords of faith and love, and let patience have her perfect work. Faith strengthens through continual exercise. This waiting does not mean that because we ask the Lord to heal there is nothing for us to do. On the contrary, we are to make the very best use of the means which the Lord in His goodness has provided for us in our necessities.
I have seen so much of carrying matters to extremes, in praying for the sick, that I have felt that this part of our experience requires much solid, sanctified thinking, lest we shall make movements that we may call faith, but which are really nothing less than presumption. Persons worn down with affliction need to be counseled wisely, that they may move discreetly; and while they place themselves before God to be prayed for that they may be healed, they are not to take the position that methods of restoration to health in accordance with nature’s laws are to be neglected.
If they take the position that in praying for healing they must not use the simple remedies provided by God to alleviate pain and to aid nature in her work, lest it be a denial of faith, they are taking an unwise position. This is not a denial of faith; it is in strict harmony with the plans of God. When Hezekiah was sick, the prophet of God brought him the message that he should die. He cried unto the Lord, and the Lord heard His servant and worked a miracle in his behalf, sending him a message that fifteen years should be added to his life. Now, one word from God, one touch of the divine finger, would have cured Hezekiah instantly, but special directions were given to take a fig and lay it upon the affected part, and Hezekiah was raised to life. In everything we need to move along the line of God’s providence.
The human agent should have faith and should cooperate with the divine power, using every facility, taking advantage of everything that, according to his intelligence, is beneficial, working in harmony with natural laws; and in doing this he neither denies nor hinders faith.
Gratitude for Health
How often those who are in health forget the wonderful mercies that are continued to them day by day, year after year. They render no tribute of praise to God for all His benefits. But when sickness comes, God is remembered. The strong desire for recovery leads to earnest prayer, and this is right. God is our refuge in sickness as in health. But many do not leave their cases with Him; they encourage weakness and disease by worrying about themselves. If they would cease repining and rise above depression and gloom, their recovery would be more sure. They should remember with gratitude how long they enjoyed the blessing of health; and should this precious boon be restored to them, they should not forget that they are under renewed obligations to their Creator. When the ten lepers were healed, only one returned to find Jesus and give Him glory. Let us not be like the unthinking nine whose hearts were untouched by the mercy of God.
By Ellen G. White, from the book Counsels on Health p. 380-382