The Church is reminded to pray for the annual assembly

Excerpts reprinted from the White Wing Messenger July 21st, 1973

“I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting” (1 Timothy 2:8).

The apostle was writing to Timothy concerning the work, and the territory to be covered. He had called to mind the evil work of false teachers. Then he had charged the younger minister to war a good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience. Viewing the task ahead, he evidently felt a special need for prayer, for he says:

“I EXHORT therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Although in this message we are thinking especially about prayer for the Assembly, it seems that Paul’s words are still very appropriate. Our work is world-wide. Delegates will be coming from all the states and several nations. We are just as concerned about, and responsible for, the work in one country as another. The Lord’s commission is an all-nations commission. Therefore, the kings or other types of rulers and authorities in other lands must be prayed for just the same as those where we happen to live. This would mean, for example, that we in the United Sates must pray for the rulers in Central and South America, along with those of every nation, and our people in Central and South America must pray for our President and other authorities here in the United States, along with those of all other countries.

Not only are we to pray for the rulers, that we may have peaceful and quiet conditions under which to spread the message, but we must pray for the Church itself, that its work may be effective. We agree with the apostle that such praying is “good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour.” Our work is a soul-saving work. And, beyond this, it is a work of taking the message of truth in its fullness to every creature. It is this way because it is God’s will—He wills that all men be saved, then go on to the full knowledge of truth. The Church is committed to the truth—the Word of God rightly divided.

Yes, “I will therefore that men pray every where.” As the Assembly draws near, our people around the globe, in whichever hemisphere, in whatever nation, should send up some special prayers for this annual event. Every member, whether he or she is privileged to attend or not, can have a part by helping us to gain the attention of the Lord for this particular Assembly. We should be that much interested, for any official business transacted by the Assembly affects the entire membership, whether all are present when it is done or not. If we pray earnestly and in good faith—if we pray in the Holy Ghost—we can commit the proceedings of this great annual feast into the hands of God and believe Him for direction.

Our General Assemblies mean much to us because of the form of government we have in the Church. Under theocracy, what the General Assembly does is not done until it seems good “…to the Holy Ghost, and to us…” (Acts 15:28). And, as far as the “us” part is concerned, we must be very careful to have the immediate direction of God. When a thing seems good to the Holy Ghost, it seems good to us—in that order. I believe we can tell when this good spirit is prevailing. This is the reason we call for special prayer each year at this time.

This upcoming Assembly is closer to the coming of the Lord than any we have ever had. We have never had an Assembly when world conditions were just as they are now. So many things point to the signs of the end-time. But we know our work is far from done. We know also what Jesus said about this— “And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:14).

As the Assembly draws near, our people around the globe, in whichever hemisphere, in whatever nation, should send up some special prayers for this annual event.

We must not think we can delay His coming by being slow and unconcerned about finishing our work. If this spirit should get hold of a few, it would still not hinder prophecy. The work will be finished on time—God’s appointed time. I feel that by far the greater part of our people understand this, and know that we must be “Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God…” (2 Peter 3:12). And, while Peter may have been referring to a time beyond the Millennium, we know that the Lord’s return in the clouds for His saints must come first, which gives us even more reason to hasten our present-day work.

Paul instructs us to pray, “lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” The Lord hears the cry of the righteous. If our hearts are pure, we can lift up “holy hands” in our “supplications, prayers, intercessions and giving of thanks.” And if we pray according to the will of God, we know He will hear us. And if He hears us, we know we have our petitions. Hallelujah!

Whatever our needs in this 68th Annual Assembly, we can have them supplied abundantly. But we must pray “without wrath and doubting.” Just think of the positive nature of God’s promises to those who ask in faith believing. In the light of these promises, there should be nor room given to doubting. We notice that Paul first says “without wrath.” It would be hard to ask anything of God without doubting if there should be any ill feeling in our hearts toward anyone. And it would be hard to pray with faith for kings and world conditions if we are not perfectly at peace with God and our fellow men in our own hearts.

Oh, as we think about it, it becomes clearer just how important it is to be able to pray effectual, fervent prayers as righteous people. (James 5:16) The destiny of so many people may depend on our attitude in prayer. If we will pray in unity of spirit from now until Assembly time for God’s perfect will to be done, what a glorious submitting of our own wills this would be! I hardly see how God could withhold any good thing from us under those conditions.