Prayer and the Bible
God's Power Works Through Prayer
By the expenditure of vast wealth in the terrible first world war millions of men lost life; but not all the treasure of all the ages can purchase back life to a single dead soldier. The worship of the Golden Calf destroys life; it cannot invoke power to restore it. Where there is life there is hope; but when life is gone hope is lost, for man cannot revive the dead.
And yet the raising of the dead seemed an easy matter with Jesus. He commanded: "Lazarus, come forth"; and he that was dead came forth! (John 11:43‑44). Lazarus had died four days previously and was decomposing; but when Jesus spake he was restored to life immediately. The power of our Lord's words was mightier than death! The source of this might is revealed in the simple thanks which Jesus offered before calling forth the dead—"Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me." From the time he received news about Lazarus, Jesus had been supplicating for that power which could return his friend to life. He had no doubt that his request would be granted; for he knew he correctly interpreted the Father's will in thus proving his right to the title: "The Resurrection and the Life." (John 11:4,15,25). Had our Lord not rendered thanks audibly we might have mistakenly supposed that the marvellous resurrection forces originated with him instead of with his Father. Thus Jesus explained himself: "Because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me" (John 11:42).
Lazarus was not raised to everlasting life. He and certain others were restored to their former activities, as practical demonstrations of that power by which Christ will be able to call forth from the sleep of death all of earth's millions, and start them on the upward way to perfect and lasting life (Isa.35:10). "Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, and shall come forth" (John 5:28,29; Acts 24:15). Careful, reverential, thinkers will not receive with incredulity this information. A miracle is not wrought by the violation of any law, but by the counteracting influence of another law. The disobedience of Adam brought into operation the "law of sin and death"; and scientific investigation has failed to discover a natural force strong enough to reverse it. But prayerful investigation of the Written Word of Jehovah, which is the greatest science, has been rewarded by the revealment of a law which is vastly more powerful than the law of sin and death. It is called the "law of the spirit of life," and was brought into force by the obedience of Christ Jesus (Rom.5:19; 8:2). This new law has the power to free us from the law of sin and death in the present Age if we have faith; for it is written: "sin shall not have dominion over you" (Rom.6:14). Ultimately all the human race, both those who have died in the past, and those still going into death, will experience the benefit of the "law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus." In the coming Age of universal blessing man will pray, and restoration of life will come.
We note another example of the granting of power through prayer. It is essential that the rulers of any country should be chosen with wisdom, for on them the welfare of the nation depends. But in spite of the many safeguards dictated by the experience of generations, mistakes are made and hence no government is fully satisfying. If through wire‑pulling and graft the elected governing body is corrupt, the country suffers. Surely he would be endowed with wisdom indeed, who could devise a method by which the electors would know for a certainty who were the very best candidates possible to vote into office.
But Jesus seemed to have no difficulty in selecting the men who were destined to be the chiefs in the mightiest Kingdom. We read: "He called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles" (Luke 6:13‑16). This momentous selection is related so simply, that it appears as if our Lord put forth little effort. But it was not easy to elect the twelve foundations of the Church, the rulers who were to sit upon twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel in the regeneration (Matt.19:28; Eph.2:20; Rev.21:14). Jesus was unerring in his judgement. Of those whom he chose from among his numerous disciples only one was lost. Here is the explanation: "And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God." And when it was day he called his disciples and separated the twelve without faltering.
Jesus knew it was God's will that he should have twelve special representatives who would constitute the twelve foundations of Spiritual Israel, just as Jacob's twelve sons were the founders of fleshly Israel, and he therefore prayed Jehovah to grant the insight and wisdom necessary to enable him to make the correct appointments. For it was not his own wishes, but the choice of his Father that he desired to be guided by (Matt.20:20‑23). This is shown by our Lord's reference to these twelve in John 17:6 as previously belonging to the Father. And even the inclusion of Judas, the son of perdition, was not an error, for it was God's will that a betrayer should be numbered with the twelve; and he had foretold of this in the Scriptures, and the Scriptures must be fulfilled (John 6:64,65; 13:11; 17:12) It made the trial of Jesus the more searching, and proved his loyalty to his covenant of sacrifice.
The heavenly wisdom was given to Jesus in response to earnest prayer; and it is accorded to his followers also if they ask for it with unwavering faith (James 1:5‑8; 3:13‑17). For the wisdom which is from above is the right application of the knowledge granted by the great Jehovah, who is the fountain of knowledge.