Care Free; Prayer Full.
(Excerpts from an address delivered at Watch Night meeting at the [Moody] Tabernacle by Mrs. J.D. Williams of C. & M.A. Bible School, St. Paul)
“Be careful for nothing; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.”—Philippians 4:6
Just two thoughts stand out in this verse for us in these few moments as we look into the Word: BE CARE FREE: BE PRAYER FULL. I believe as you have gone on in your Christian life you have found that nothing hinders prayer so much as anxiety; fretting and anxious care. Then, it works the other way around—nothing keeps us from anxious care, fretting and worry like prayer. God has brought these two truths together in this verse. Oh, how wonderfully the Spirit does that. God tells us not to do something, or God tells us to do something in His Word, and perhaps right in the very same verse or in the next one He tells us how it is possible even to poor old creatures like we are right down in a world like this.
O, thank God for a Book that is not simply a book of resolutions or a book of commandments. Why, bless you, over in Japan the great ruler sends out every year some splendid maxims printed in long lists for the people of the land, and they sound very well. But you know what the trouble is; you know that the poor heathen heart that has been thinking sin, living in sin, hearing sin, seeing sin and feeling the power of sin for generations cannot do good things and live good things. O thank God for a Book that gives us the standard, and then in the same verse, or on the same page, or in the verse just before or the verse after, all the way along sandwiched in, is God’s own marvelous provision for the life held up by the standard in the Book.
The Enemy To Prayer
Thank God for this verse that tells us first of all the terrible enemy to prayer. I believe it is an enemy that is facing us in this land and every other land today as perhaps no other enemy does in our prayer life, that of anxiety. Because of the awful economic problems everywhere today, because of political problems, social, commercial, spiritual problems—our world never faced such problems as it is facing today. Every time a housekeeper goes shopping she has enough to make her anxious for a week if she has a big family to provide for. But do you know what I think? The trick of the devil in these days is just to keep us fuming and fretting and anxious, talking about the high cost of everything, just filling our minds and our conversation before breakfast, after dinner, after supper with “Oh, don’t things cost an awful lot? We just can’t make a dollar go anywhere.” Satan has brought the condition about, and now he wants to fill Christians’ minds up with the conditions as they are today and keep them thinking about them, to keep them away from prayer.
A Faith People
But God is just waiting for people who will stand out in these days, in the midst of present conditions, and trust Him. There is no use of being the kind of an optimist who does not face conditions as they are. Serious conditions are upon us, and anyone is not a real optimist who can look at the spiritual conditions in the Church of Jesus Christ today and never shed a tear. No one can say, “O well, things have been like this before and they will be better after a while.” No, that is not the kind of optimism we need. We must face conditions as they are; but I do believe that God is just waiting to show through His people today the mighty supernatural resources of a God who hears and answers prayer and makes a dollar go farther for His people than it does for the world in these awful times in which we are living.
What we say about the dollar will hold in every condition, ever problem that you and I have to face and solve in the hour in which we are living. Young people have problems today. I never look into their faces without thinking about them. Thank God for the young people He is bringing to us in the Twin Cities. Every Friday night they gather about this precious old Book and study it, and we look into their faces and hear their testimonies that they have found a Christ who is big enough and real enough to keep them from worry, and to make their salaries go far enough. I do praise God that this verse is for us, it does apply to the young people of this day. We can, through prayer, find the resources of God that are enough to manifest His sufficiency.
The Spirit has been reproving me whenever I have allowed myself to talk about conditions, and I thank Him for it, but thank Him most of all for the faith He has been putting inside of me to believe for His supernatural working, and for a testimony to the world that God is enough for present high prices, enough for all the problems that we face today in the world, in the Church, in the home, everywhere. Thank God, I believe it, and we are worshiping that kind of a God.
In our home in St. Paul, we have quite a number of young people too poor to go farther away for training, young people of limited resources. We haven’t an endowed home, we haven’t money which we can lay our hands on without looking up Yonder. We have tried to keep the prices down for these young people, and are still keeping them at four dollars a week for board and room, light and heat and all the rest. If you ask me how it is possible, I cannot tell you. I do not know, only I know that the bills are paid every night when the doors are locked, even the coal bill, and we have cold weather up in our country, have had zero weather for a solid month and deep snow.
A Miracle Working God
We have marveled this year especially, for you know that many foods necessary for young people cost twice what they did a year ago, and almost everything is one-third higher in price, and yet we have left the price the same. I cannot tell you how it has been possible, only that we have gone to God, and the God who answers prayer has made it possible. I could stand here all night and tell you little incidents of His provision, not only in food, but in other marvelous ways.
O friends, I believe as I stand here tonight that God is waiting to prove to the world through His people the supernatural power of God in the very hour in which we are living.
I went not long ago into a church where we had been having a Bible class for many months. They had been meeting with awful problems. Satan had been busy, and some of their best members were moving away and some had failed spiritually and sided in with the apostasy of the hour, and had brought terrible reproach upon the church, one of the most spiritual churches in the city. They have a few godly people who know how to pray. They met together one night for prayer, considered a few things and then prayed. They did not get through, and met the next night, considered a few more and prayed. They kept meeting together and praying, committing things definitely to God. The other night one of their deacons said, “It is wonderful how God is working things out.” He told us one thing after another about how their most serious problems had faded away as they brought them to God in united believing prayer.
Oh, God loves to take hold in a church business meeting. God loves to take hold of situations where Satan has been busy and gotten a lot of folks talking about other folks. Don’t the devil love to do that kind of thing in the Body of Christ—just make trouble, trouble, trouble, trouble? But do you know if God can get just a few people who know how to lay hold in believing prayer, He can wipe out the dirtiest old black gossip and wash it away with His precious blood in a minute. O thank God for a God who loves to undertake in these hard things and just prove Himself God.
Be care free; be prayer full. I believe it means not simply getting down and saying over the words, and then saying, “Now I have prayed about it, and still God has not answered,” and then going on worrying. When anybody comes with a whine and a why, I feel quite sure they haven’t gone on very far in their prayer; for this verse says, “In everything by prayer and supplication.” “Mrs. Williams, I have just prayed and prayed and nothing is any different.” “Whatsoever things ye desire when ye pray, believe that ye have them and ye shall have them.”
A.T. Pierson once said, “Friends, it is the fervent desire of your heart that God really hears and answers.” Supplication, intensity in prayer—not feeling that God has denied us simply because we do not see the end of strikes the first thing after we have gotten down before Him. The fact of the matter is a good many times we are not ready to get God’s answer, and God has to keep us supplicating, not to get Him willing, but to get us into the condition of receiving and taking from Him.
Supplication—O God has been putting this cry into my heart lately, “Lord, give me the spirit of supplication.” I found out a good many years ago that I could not lash myself up to that kind of prayer. I could set aside an hour and make myself keep it and go through a form of prayer, but I could not by form or ceremony or any means lash myself to real intercession, real supplication in prayer. But Oh, if we will give ourselves over to the Holy Spirit, if we will tell Him we would rather He would use us for prayer than anything else. As Dr. Wilson used to say in a little couplet, “Be at leisure from yourself to soothe and sympathize.” The reason more of us do not know about real supplication and prayer is because we are so taken up with our own selves, we are not at leisure from ourselves. God has to wake us up in the night when we have not had time to really pray in the Holy Ghost. No doubt some of the sweetest prayer experiences you ever have had have been in the middle of the night when your own thoughts and plans, fretting and worry were still for a little while. Then the Holy Spirit could breathe into your heart and through your spirit the supplication of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Ghost, then, that speaks, and what He asks is a mind at rest.
Perhaps some of you have forgotten that God is enough, enough for that business, enough for that economic problem in school or in the office. O, He is just waiting to prove to you that He is enough, so that your heart will be carefree, so that the Spirit can come upon you in real supplication for somebody else that is in trouble, for somebody else who has not found out the secret for this hour in which we live. Prayer with supplication.
Then, don’t you like that other part of the sandwich, thanksgiving? “In everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving.” Oh, for a joyful people, people who have prayed, who have supplicated, who have really gone through with God until the praise is just bubbling out; and instead of the world getting our fret and our whine, the world gets our Hallelujah and our praise.
God loves to take young people today and prove to the world what a supernatural God can do in the way of education, in the way of heart training, in everything that they need, enough for any situation, who takes all the whine. Oh, the world does not want the Church’s whine, the Church’s fret, the Church’s worry and anxious care about things. We have no right to give that to the poor old unbelieving world. The world has economic problems, but the world does not have our God, a God who is big enough for every problem that we face tonight.
Oh, yes, let us pray, let us supplicate, until thanksgiving rolls forth from our lips and hearts, and shows in our faces, and we give to this world in 1920 a testimony of praise and thanksgiving. It is a terrible, skeptical, infidel, materialistic, rationalistic old world we are living in; and a poor, unbelieving, apostate Church in it, and we need to show to them—not by logic, not by argument, but just by praise-full, contented, happy, joyful Christian lives and real spiritual optimism, that God is enough.
As we close the year, let us be care free, be prayer full. It is my own heart’s desire as we begin this year, that I may know a life of prayer above everything else. I covet that for young people; we covet it for our work above everything else. We keep saying to our young people, “We have nothing to offer you but a hard field, a big opportunity, and just a place to pray though and prove that God is enough.”
O praise God there is a cure tonight, there is a remedy for all this fret and worry and anxious care. Prayer is the remedy. The God who answers the supplicating heart is the remedy for all your anxious care. On the other hand, let Him keep you free from it, so He can pour in more prayer; for the care-free heart is the heart that the Spirit speaks through. If we are to believe God for mighty things to come to pass in this year 1920 our hearts must be care-free; for the Holy Spirit will pour prayer into care-free hearts.