1. To pray is as it were to be on speaking terms with Me, and so by being in communion with and abiding in Me to become like Me. There is a kind of insect which feeds upon and lives among grass and green leaves and becomes like them in colour. Also the polar bear dwelling among the white snows has the same snowy whiteness, and the tiger of Bengal bears upon its skin the marks of the reeds among which it lives. So those, who by means of prayer abide in communion with Me partake, with the saints and angels, of My Nature, and being formed in My image become like Me.
2. When for but a short time I drew Peter, James, and John into communion with Me upon the Mount, I showed them somewhat of My glory, and of all the saints two only, Moses and Elias, appeared to them; they were so captivated with that brief glimpse of heavenly glory that they wished to erect three tabernacles in order to live there (Matt. xvii.1-5). How wonderful, then, will be the happiness of those who abide in Me, and with saints and angels innumerable enter into their longed-for heaven, and share with Me My full glory which knows no loss nor shadow of change (John xvii.24; James i.17). The man of prayer shall never be alone, but he shall abide with Me and My holy ones for ever (Matt. xxviii.20; Zach. iii.7-8).
3. It is not a great thing to control and make use of wild animals, lightning, the wind, and light, and other powers of nature, but to gain the mastery over the world and Satan and self, with all its passions, is of a truth a most momentous and necessary thing. Upon those only who live a life of prayer do I bestow the power to overcome all the might of the enemy (Luke x.17,20), so that even while they live in this world they abide with Me in the heavenly places (Eph. ii.6), and Satan being below and they above he is never able to reach them, but they abide for ever with Me in safety and without a tremor of fear.
Although men have now obtained control over the powers of nature they are not to travel beyond the bounds of the air, while the man of prayer, having mastered Satan and self, can range at will the everlasting heavens.
4. Just as the bee collects the sweet juice of the flowers and turns it into honey without injuring their colour or fragrance, so the man of prayer gathers happiness and profit from all God's creation without doing any violence to it. As bees also gather their honey from flowers in all sorts of different places and store it in the honeycomb, so the man of God gathers sweet thoughts and feelings from every part of creation, and in communion with his Creator collects in his heart the honey of truth, and in enduring peace with Him at all times and in all places, tastes with delight the sweet honey of God.
5. Now is the time to obtain and keep in the vessels of our hearts the oil of the Holy Spirit, as the five wise virgins did (Matt. xxv.1-13); otherwise like the five foolish ones we shall meet with nothing but grief and despair. Now also you must collect the manna for the true Sabbath, otherwise there will be nothing left you but sorrow and woe (Ex. xvi.15,27). |Pray, therefore, that your flight may not be in the winter,| that is, in time of great distress or the last days, |or on the Sabbath day,| that is, the reign of a thousand years of eternal rest, for such an opportunity will never occur again (Matt. xxiv.20).
In the same way as climate produces a change in form, colour, and the habits of growth in plants and flowers, so those who maintain communion with Me undergo a development of their spiritual nature in habit, appearance, and disposition; and putting off the old man they are transformed into My own glorious and incorruptible image.
With my finger I wrote upon the ground the sinful state of each of those who, regardless of their inner vileness, brought the woman taken in adultery for condemnation, so that they left her one by one and went away abashed and ashamed. With My finger, too, I point out in secret to My servants their wounds of sin, and when they repent, with a touch of the same finger I heal them; and in the same way as a child grasps his father's finger and by it help walks along with him, so I with My finger lead My children along the road from this world to their home of rest and everlasting peace (John xiv.2,3).
7. Oftentimes men pray to the Father in My name, but do not abide in Me, that is, they take My name into their mouths and on their lips, but not into their hearts and lives. That is the reason why they do not obtain what they pray for. But when I abide in them and they in Me, then whatever they ask from the Father they receive, because they pray under the direction of the Holy Spirit in that condition. The Holy Spirit shows them what will glorify the Father and be best for themselves and for others. Otherwise they will get such an answer as a bad son got from a governor whom his father had served with great courage and honour. When the son presented a petition in his father's name and asked for some employment and favour, the governor pointed out to him his evil life and habits, and said, |Do not petition me in your father's name, but first go and act according to his example. Let his high worth be not on your lips only, but carry it into your life, and then your petition will be accepted.|
8. Between the prayers of those who worship and praise Me with their lips only and of those who do so from their heart there is a very great difference. For instance, one who was a true worshipper was constantly praying for another that his eyes might be opened and that he might accept the truth, while the other was a worshipper in name only often prayed in his enmity against My true worshipper that he might be struck blind. Finally the prayers of the true worshipper were heard by the loving will of God, and he who was formerly only a hypocrite received spiritual sight. With his heart full of joy this man became a true believer, and a sincere and lasting brother of My true servant.
9. Prayer makes things possible for men which they find impossible by other means, and they experience such wonderful things in life as are not only opposed to the rules and opinions of worldly wisdom, but are held to be impossible altogether. Scientific men do not recognize that He who set all created things in order and made laws for them, cannot be imprisoned behind the bars of his own laws. The ways of the great Lawgiver are inscrutable, because His eternal will and purpose is the blessing and prosperity of all His creatures, and the reason the natural man cannot grasp this fact is because spiritual things are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. ii.14).
The greatest of all miracles is the new birth in man, and to the man who has experienced this miracle all others become possible. Now in very cold countries a bridge of water is a common sight, because when the surface of a river is frozen hard the water beneath still flows freely on, but men cross over the icy bridge with ease and safety. But if one were to speak of a bridge of water spanning a flowing river to people who are constantly perspiring in the heat of a tropical clime, they would at once say that such a thing was impossible and against the laws of nature. There is the same great difference between those who have been born again and by prayer maintain their spiritual life, and those who live worldly lives and value only material things, and so are utterly ignorant of the life of the soul.
10. He who desires by prayer to obtain from God the blessing of a spiritual life must believe and obey without questioning. The man who came to Me with a withered hand, when I commanded him to stretch out his hand instantly obeyed, and so his hand became whole as the other (Matt. xii.10-13). But suppose instead of that instant obedience he had begun to argue and say, |How can I stretch out my hand? If I had been able to do that, why should I have come to Thee? First of all heal my hand, and then I shall be able to stretch it out.| All this would have been considered very reasonable and to the point, but his hand would never have been healed.
He who prays must believe and be obedient, and stretch out to Me in prayer his weak and withered hands, and then it will be for Me to give him spiritual life, and according to his need it shall be granted to him (Matt. xxi.22).