Lou: I have heard a fairly well-known minister talk about how God speaks to him. Now what about that? How do you judge that kind of thing? When you speak about prayer as conversation with a friend, is that ever a two-way conversation? What about God speaking back to us? Can we talk more about that?
Graham: When someone comes and says, “God spoke to me last night,” I mustn’t be rude enough to say, “I think that’s a lie.” But I must remember verses we considered in earlier chapters. One of these is about the prophet who said, “The angel of the Lord has told me thus and so, but he lied to him” (based on 1 Kings 13:18). So if this person says, “God spoke to me last night and I bring you this message,” I must take that message to the Scriptures and see if it measures up. For no matter who it is that comes to me with a message from the Lord, though he may say, “The Lord spoke to me last night,” I still must take that message to the Scriptures. But if I’m taking that message to the Scriptures, then what is the highest authority? Isn’t it the Scriptures? Then why not go straight there? I believe God speaks to us primarily through the Scriptures.
God has certainly spoken to individuals from time to time. And we’ve taken some of those messages to the Bible, and they’ve measured up. There is one such person you and I know especially well; what she wrote measures up magnificently. That’s where the authority lies. I test what she wrote by the Scriptures.
Lou: A couple more questions. Should we pray to the Father, the Son and/or the Holy Spirit? Should we pray to all three?
Graham: I would say all three, as in the Doxology. There we praise the Father, we praise the Son, and we praise the Holy Spirit.
Lou: What about praying in the name of Jesus? What is the significance of that?
Graham: I think it is significant that Jesus said, “Pray to the Father in My name, and the Spirit will help you do it” (based on John 14:13-14, 26; 15:26). I think that’s for historical reasons. You see, the Son is the One who came to reveal the truth about the Father. The Spirit gives us the record and brings the confirmation. And so to be in tune with the whole history of the revelation, He says, “Pray to the Father, but in My name.” “In My name” is not a magic formula, it’s simply saying, “I recognize that if Jesus had not come, I would not know You, I wouldn’t have the courage to come. I wouldn’t know how to pray.” So, “in His name” is a statement of gratitude and worship.
Lou: Can you say just a word about prayers that God says He won’t hear? For example: “You spread forth your hands. I will hide My eyes from you. Even though you make many prayers, I will not listen” (Isa 1:15). What kind of prayers does God refuse to hear?
Graham: In the letters of John it says a similar thing (1 John 4:6). God doesn’t listen to the prayer of hypocrisy, the prayer that really isn’t asking for any help, the prayer that is cheating with God. Now He loves the cheater and He loves the hypocrite. He simply cannot help them, and so He says, “I will have to give you up.” Prayer must be honest. We must walk humbly with our God and tell the truth. It’s the same way with a physician—a physician cannot help a cheating patient who won’t tell the truth.
Lou: The next chapter will be number sixteen in our series. What’s our topic?
Graham: “God’s Last Pleading with His Children.” As some might guess, we will be reviewing the Three Angels’ Messages in the setting of the Great Controversy.