June 15, 2018 Brethren Letter
I’ll begin tonight’s letter with a few paragraphs written by Mr. Herbert W. Armstrong from the July, 1964, Plain Truth magazine; the title of the article is “How to be an OVERCOMER.”
Spiritual training, to get and KEEP in constant vigilant condition to meet the foe of temptation and sin requires CONTINUOUS, EARNEST, PERSISTENT PRAYER! That is why we are commanded so often to PRAY WITHOUT CEASING! To KEEP IT UP! We can keep in spiritual training only if we keep our affections — our minds — our thoughts — on SPIRITUAL things. Read Col. 3:1-10. Most of us keep our minds filled with earthly, material cares and interests, turning to the spiritual only occasionally! Seek FIRST the Kingdom of God and HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS!
Sometimes it takes a siege of FASTING AND PRAYER — earnest, DETERMINED, PERSEVERING PRAYER — seeking God with all our might — with weeping — staying with it, DETERMINED, until we get through. Then we must keep in CONTINUOUS prayer. Cast ALL our cares upon HIM. We are not doing that. If you do, there will be many things a day to pray about! And it takes daily PRIVATE prayer, in real earnest, besides family or public prayer. Is eternal life WORTH IT?
As Mr. Armstrong pointed out, true Christians should be seeking the Kingdom of God and His righteousness FIRST. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness…” (Matthew 6:33). Christ’s words are clear about what our spiritual priorities should be. There are spiritual “tools” that help us grow in our Christian lives. Mr. Armstrong mentioned two of these “tools” (as shown above). One of the spiritual “tools” we use is FASTING, another is PRAYER. “Pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit” (I Thessalonians 5:17-19).
To “pray without ceasing,” means there should be no omission, no neglecting of prayer. If we’re not praying to God, or our prayers are half-hearted, we could find ourselves quenching God’s Holy Spirit and not even realize it. God doesn’t force His Spirit on anyone. “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing [with the faith of Christ], you will receive” (Matthew 21:22).
If we’re not diligent, not really applying ourselves, how could we expect God to be listening? “…The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16). As Christians, we should want a close, personal relationship with our Father in heaven. “And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, ‘Abba, Father!’ [He is a real Father to us], Therefore you are no longer a slave but a son, and if a son, then an heir of God through Christ” (Galatians 4:6-7). We can have a personal relationship with God, through prayerful conversation.
In Matthew 6 (Luke 11, also), Christ gave us a prayer outline…
In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.  Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven.  Give us this day our daily bread.  And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.  And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen (Matthew 6:9-13).
In Psalm 141 we see that King David’s prayers were likened to “incense”…
“A Psalm of David. LORD, I cry out to You; Make haste to me! Give ear to my voice when I cry out to You. Let my prayer be set before You as incense [as sweet incense, or perfume], The lifting up of my hands as the evening sacrifice ” (Psalm 141:1-2).
Another example of prayers being like “incense,” is found in the book of Revelation…
“Now when He had taken the scroll, the four living creatures and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb, each having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense [sweet aroma, fragrant powder], which are the prayers of the saints” (Revelation 5:8).
Once again, as Mr. Armstrong wrote, We can keep in spiritual training only if we keep our affections — our minds — our thoughts — on SPIRITUAL things.
Have a wonderful Sabbath!
Your Brother in Christ,