It’s been over four decades since I transcribed the words for A Morning Prayer.
I say “transcribed” because there was no question in my mind at the time that I was merely a copyist. I was God’s penman, writing down something that the Holy Spirit of God had just given while I slept. It was not inspired in the sense that the Holy Scriptures are inspired, but simply a rhymed repetition, or recitation of a few truths that we are to continually share in order to edify and encourage one another.
To my embarrassment, it took me over 40 years to realize that my brothers and sisters in Christ — my fellow students as well as my college professors and administrators — did not believe the account of how I received this poem. And that is, in several ways, tragic.
There I was, immersing myself in a program that was supposed to prepare me for the ministry, following a system of curriculum that was to edify all of us, students and teachers alike. We were made to memorize such verses as, …your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams. Out teachers indicated that they believed that these passages were for today, the “end times.” And I took these Scriptures as God’s very present promises, proofs of his presence, and an expectation of his blessings. I foolishly believed that such events should and would be the norm, not the extremely rare exception, and certainly not an experience to be questioned or to be scorned. Oh, how naive I was!
When I entered Bible college, I was a brand new believer. I had been humbled by what I had come to see as the enormity of my sin, and the glorious goodness of God in forgiving me, of washing me clean, and making me a new creature in Christ. I was being kept from temptation by his grace. I had followed what I believed were God’s clear signals to close my business and enter Bible college to prepare for the ministry. I knew very little of the Bible, but simply believed that God would lead and provide and bless everyone who was faithful. And now these tenets were brought into question by the very people who claimed to believe them, and my integrity was impugned.
Over the succeeding years, I have discovered how wrong I was. Oh, not about my account of the facts. The doubts and scorn of others only matter if they impugn God or are detrimental to his work. This experience remains an encouragement to my wife and me, and will for as long as we live.
The problem is that there is a great tug-of-war in the Church, between those on one hand who deny that miracles, signs and wonders are for today, and those who believe that they are not. And the waters are further muddied by those who take stands which strain the meaning of the scriptures, those who go to excess and no longer strive to glorify God, but unwittingly (or with foreknowledge) magnify themselves.
Some deny that it is God’s will to bless through signs and wonders in these latter days. They imply that they can tough it out and live victorious Christian lives without any manifestations of God’s presence.
Are these truly men and women of great faith, or do their words border on the perverse, demonstrating a pride in their own ability to live and minister without the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and the necessity of leaning on the Everlasting Arms? Paul assured us that, in him we move, and live, and have our being. We cannot walk the walk apart from God’s daily presence and power in our lives.
Jesus promised, But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me. Peter assured us that the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Are you called? Then what of the promise Jesus made to you?
These questions will be settled once and for all when we see Jesus. Until then, however, we are faced with the question of why the number of Christian adherents in the United States — where signs and wonders are often ignored or denigrated — is steadily declining. On the other hand, believers in South America, Africa, the Middle East, India, Asia, and the Pacific basin, testify of countless signs and wonders that bless their people and attract the lost.
We Americans and Western Europeans live in lotus lands of relative prosperity and security. Those in other parts of the world often barely survive under unspeakable conditions, and suffer incredible persecution. Their faith is continually on trial. Yet, ironically, they are the ones who are experiencing amazing numerical growth. And the willingness of many to die for their faith proves that faith.
“Oh, precious Lord, our Savior, be with us through this day; and keep your hand upon us, each thing we do and say; for we are but your children, and need your guiding hand, to keep us safely moving, throughout this sin filled land.”
—From “A Morning Prayer,” Frank Becker, 1971.