I have felt that we do not pray as much as we should. There is nothing more needed in the work than the practical results of communion with God. We should hold convocations for prayer, asking the Lord to open the way for the truth to enter the strongholds where Satan has set up his throne, and dispel the shadow he has cast athwart the pathway of those whom he is seeking to deceive and destroy. We have the assurance, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” . . .
The Pentecost Experience
The Christian church began its existence by praying for the Holy Spirit. It was in its infancy, without the personal presence of Christ. Just before his ascension Christ had commissioned the disciples to preach the gospel to the world. “Ye shall receive power,” he said, “after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” “Tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.”
In obedience to the word of their Master, the disciples returned to Jerusalem, and for ten days they prayed for the fulfilment of God’s promise. These ten days were days of deep heart-searching. The disciples put away all difference that had existed among them, and drew close together in Christian fellowship. As they prayed, they realized what a privilege they had had in being permitted to associate so closely with Christ. Sadness filled their hearts as they thought of how many times they had grieved his heart of love by their failure to understand the lessons that for their good he had been trying to teach them.
At the end of the ten days the Lord fulfilled his promise by a wonderful outpouring of his Spirit. When they were “all with one accord in one place” in prayer and supplication, the promised blessing came. “Suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
In the heavenly courts, Christ, with the angels who had accompanied him to heaven, had been received. All the heavenly intelligences joined in this coronation service of their Lord. The pentecostal outpouring upon the disciples was heaven’s communication to them that his inauguration was complete.
The multitude who had come together, when they heard the disciples “speak with other tongues,” were amazed at the divine manifestation. Some were in doubt, and said one to another, “What meaneth this? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.” But this was the power of the Holy Spirit. . . .
“And the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls. And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles. And all that believed were together, and had all things common; and sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need. And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Growing Closer—?Reaching Out
Christ has made provision that his church shall be a transformed body. Illumined with the light of heaven, possessing the glory of Immanuel. It is his purpose that every Christian shall be surrounded with a spiritual atmosphere of light and peace. There is no limit to the usefulness of the one who, putting self aside, makes room for the working of the Holy Spirit upon the heart, and lives a life wholly consecrated to God.
What was the result of the outpouring of the Spirit upon the day of Pentecost?—The glad tidings of a risen Saviour were carried to the utmost bounds of the inhabited world. The hearts of the disciples were surcharged with the benevolence so full, so deep, so far-reaching, that it impelled them to go to the ends of the earth, testifying, “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As they proclaimed the truth as it is in Jesus, hearts yielded to the power of the message. The church beheld converts flocking to her from all directions. Backsliders were reconverted. Sinners united with Christians in seeking the pearl of great price. Those who had been the bitterest opponents of the gospel became its champions. The prophecy was fulfilled, that the weak shall be “as David,” and the house of David “as the angel of the Lord.” Every Christian saw in his brother the divine similitude of love and benevolence. One interest prevailed. One subject of emulation swallowed up all others. The only ambition of the believers was to reveal the likeness of Christ’s character and to labor for the enlargement of his kingdom.
Notice that it was after the disciples had come into perfect unity, when they were no longer striving for the highest place, that the Spirit was poured out. They were of one accord. All differences had been put away. And the testimony borne of them after the Spirit had been given was the same. Mark the word: “The multitude of them that believed were of one heart and of one soul.” The spirit of Him who died that sinners might live animated the entire congregation of believers.
Stay Focused on God’s Agenda
Christ declared that the divine influence of the Spirit was to be with his followers to the end of time. But the promise is not appreciated as it should be; and therefore its fulfilment is not seen as it might be. With many the promise of the Spirit is a matter little thought of; and the result is only what might be expected,—spiritual drought, spiritual darkness, spiritual declension and death. Minor matters occupy the attention, and the divine power which is necessary for the growth and prosperity of the church, and which would bring all other blessings in its train, is lacking, though offered in its infinite plentitude.
It is the absence of the Spirit that makes the gospel ministry so powerless. Learning, talent, eloquence, every natural or acquired endowment, may be possessed; but without the presence of the Spirit of God, no heart will be touched, no sinner won to Christ. On the other hand, if they are connected with Christ, if the gifts of the Spirit are theirs, the poorest and most ignorant of his disciples will have power that will tell upon hearts. God makes them channels for the outflowing of the highest influence in the universe. . . .
This article was published in The Advent Review and Sabbath Herald, now the Adventist Review, April 30, 1908. Seventh-day Adventists believe that Ellen G. White (1827-1915) exercised the Biblical gift of prophecy during more than 70 years of public ministry. This piece was published August 26, 2010.