TO WHOM SHOULD WE PRAY?
DEAR BROTHER RUSSELL:--At one of our recent meetings I mentioned the subject of contributing to the "Home and Foreign Missionary Fund." Although the suggestion appeared in the Nov. '91 TOWER, I had not heard a word from any of the brethren, and was greatly surprised to find so much indifference manifested. It was not until Brother A__________ mentioned the subject, and wanted an explanation, that I thought it was time to bring the matter before the meeting, which accordingly I did. There were but ten present. All, however, except one brother who has no income whatever, have promised to give something. It was suggested, instead of each individual member sending his name and the amount contributed by him, to have but one general fund, and to make it a contribution from the Church at Baltimore; to which all agreed, the amount ranging from five to twenty-five cents per week. I have not been able to see all our members, and so cannot state definitely what the total amount will be. I think, however, it will aggregate fifty or seventy-five dollars. I wish it were more.
[If this union plan seems to suit you better than the individual one, we trust, nevertheless, that the names of all contributors may be sent, that they may appear upon the Tract Society records. We like to know all the dear sheep personally as well as by groups.
In this connection we take pleasure in telling the friends that the apostolic plan of laying by weekly according as the Lord hath prospered them (1 Cor. 16) is proving to be a great [R1410 : page 156] blessing to the givers (who write us of their joy), as well as in forwarding the general spread of the Truth to others.--MRS. R., Secretary.]
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From early childhood I had been taught to address my petitions to God the Father, for Jesus sake. In fact, it is the general custom, I believe, of the nominal church to pray to the Father in the name of Jesus. Last night, however, [R1410 : page 157] at the house of Brother Davis, a lady friend who was present made a very strong plea, showing that our prayers ought to be addressed to Jesus; that in honoring him we honor the Father; and that the Father is well pleased when we go to Jesus in prayer. Furthermore, he is our head, and we, as members of his body, are dependent upon him for our life, and all power is given unto him in heaven and in earth. He is also our ambassador, and in approaching the throne we ought to lay our petitions before Jesus--just as now, should we have important business with the Queen of England, we would not think of dealing directly, but would communicate through our representative abroad.
I was very much impressed with her remarks. On my return home my heart went to Jesus in prayer; language flowed freely and naturally, and I felt a nearness of his presence which I never experienced before. I believe it is right, and that we are by no means dishonoring the Father, but on the contrary are honoring him so much the more by honoring the Son. If I am wrong, dear brother, my earnest prayer is that I may be set right.
Yours in the Redeemer, H. N. RAHN.
REPLY--"ACCEPTED IN THE BELOVED."
It is undoubtedly proper enough for us to address petitions to our Redeemer and Advocate, who loved us and gave himself for us. He is still interested in us--still loves us. He is still the Shepherd and Bishop of our souls, and we are his sheep. He is still our faithful High Priest, who can be touched with a feeling of our infirmities and who is ready still to succor them that are tempted. And although we are nowhere instructed to make petitions to him, it evidently could not be improper so to do; for such a course is nowhere prohibited, and the disciples worshiped him.--Matt. 28:9,17.
However, it would be a serious error to suppose that we ought to address our petitions to our Lord Jesus and not to the Father--"For the Father himself loveth you" [who are in Christ]. And it is proper to remember that every good and perfect gift cometh from the Father. All things [blessings] are of the Father, and are by the Son. (1 Cor. 8:6.) Jehovah is the fountain of our blessings, and our Lord Jesus is the channel through which they reach us. "We know that God heareth not sinners" (John 9:31); and consequently, we, who by nature were sinners even as others, could have no audience with Jehovah until justified by faith in the sin-offering, made on our behalf, once for all, in the offering of the body of Jesus, our Lord. As he declared, "No man cometh unto the Father but by me." But now, since we do accept of our Lord's sacrifice, and realize it as the price of our justification, we have boldness to enter into the Most Holy [into communion with God] by the blood of Jesus, and "draw nigh with cleansed hearts and with full assurance of faith," realizing that "we are accepted in the Beloved."
Our Lord Jesus not only prayed to the Father himself, but instructed his followers as to the general style of their petitions, saying, "After this manner pray ye--Our Father which art in heaven," etc. And over and over again our Lord instructs us to ask of the Father in his name. (John 14:13,14; 15:16; 16:23,24,26.) In his name means more than merely by his authority; and it means more than the formal closing of a prayer with the words, "For Christ's sake." It means that the petitioner coming to the Father must realize his own actual unworthiness to be received at the throne of the heavenly grace, or to have his petition regarded and answered; and that therefore he presents it in the name and merit of Christ, his Ransomer--by faith accepting a share in the justifying merit of the great sin-offering which he made once for all.
Adam had access to and communion with God, the Father, when he was perfect--before he sinned and fell under divine condemnation. As many of the redeemed race as shall accept of the grace of God to be extended to all through Christ shall, when perfected again, have back this communion and all that was lost. And we who in the present age are justified by faith in his blood--in his sacrifice for our sins --have now this communion--only, so long as we are not actually perfect, it must always be exercised through our Mediator; and hence to hold communion, we must recognize not only the Mediator, but the ransom which he gave for all, by which we are made acceptable to the Father, in him.