The Emperor and Ellen White
Franz Joseph I, the emperor of Austria and king of Hungary and Bohemia from 1848 to 1916, ruled for 68 years, the third-longest reign in the recorded history of Europe. Though his life was not exemplary in every aspect, he did have one commendable practice. Each morning he arrived in his study at 5 o’clock to pray at the altar next to his desk. The altar remains today in his palace in Austria as a testament to the value he placed on prayer.
During the same time period, Seventh-day Adventist Church co-founder Ellen G. White also lived, prayed and wrote much about the value of prayer. My favorite written work on connecting with God comes from “The Privilege of Prayer,” chapter 11 in her book Steps to Christ. It articulates four elements of meaningful communication with God that, when applied, facilitate a vibrant relationship:
- Recognize our great need for Christ. When we realize that, as the apostle Paul states in Ephesians 6, we wrestle not with humanity but with great spiritual forces beyond our strength, it becomes clear that we need a power greater than ourselves to prevail in our Christian walk.
- Sin separates. The psalmist David says, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me” (Ps. 66:18). It is not so much that God turns a deaf ear to us, as much as our sin prevents our hearts from hearing Him.
- Forgiveness opens the floodgates of blessing. Experiencing God’s mercy and grace becomes a blessing He wants us to bestow upon those who have wronged or wounded us, thereby “paying it forward.”
- Faith is the key to unlock His promises. When we pray, we must believe He will answer in a way that is best for us. Psalm 84:11 promises, “No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly” (ESV).
Some years ago at a conference office worship, Pastor Cindy Tutsch, who recently retired as associate director of the Ellen G. White Estate, Inc., shared another moving message about the value of prayer from Steps to Christ, which reads in part: “Keep your wants, your joys, your sorrows, your cares, and your fears before God. You cannot burden Him; you cannot weary Him. … There is no chapter in our experience too dark for Him to read; there is no perplexity too difficult for Him to unravel” (p. 100).
My prayer for 2014 is that we will make prayer our daily priority. In doing so, we will experience the immeasurable joy of God's presence, which is the first step toward helping us reach our union wide goal to "experience the mission.”
by Dave Weigley, president of the Columbia Union Conference of Seventh-day Adventists