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Philadelphia, Pa., Jan., 1903.

Mrs. L. C. Ray – My Dear Sister In Christ: – As I read over your last letter to me, I find it is dated September 27th; really I did not know that I had owed you a letter for so long a time, and am now ashamed of myself for not having written sooner. I have been so barren and destitute of all spirituality that had I written I doubt if it would have been of much account. Even now the only reason why I start this letter is because I feel that I must write to you, however worthless the outcome may be, and not because I have any great message to deliver.

I am glad you have met brother Fetter, and have been privileged to enjoy his company; he is a very estimable brother. I am glad you have enjoyed such a feast of fat things, both in New Mexico and at the Trinity River Association. By this time I trust the memory of it still lingers sweetly with you, though you may have forgotten in detail many of the precious things that were said. We are sometimes discouraged because we cannot carry in our memory more of the things that we hear, and reflect upon them at later times. Once in a long while we can do this, but for one idea that we retain in this way, there are a dozen or more that we let slip. I cannot call to mind at this instant just what I had for my dinner on Monday; it is not needful that I remember it; if the food then partaken of has been digested and assimilated into my physical makeup, this is the prime necessity. Just so with the sermons we hear, we rejoice in them at the time we hear them, are built up thereby, strengthened, encouraged and refreshed; this is all that is necessary. It is not needful for us to retain in memory a single idea for to-morrow, or the line of thought of a sermon; if we have partaken of the heavenly manna to-day, to-morrow will bring us a fresh supply, and we cannot carry to-day’s provisions to a future time and make it minister unto our future needs. “Give us this day our daily bread,” is the prayer voiced by the spiritual man. “After this manner therefore pray ye,” said the Savior. No prayer indited in the heart by the Spirit of God is fruitless, but will be answered according to the petition. The prayer so inspired is in harmony with God’s will, and asks only for that which he is willing to bestow upon us, therefore every true prayer is prophetic, and is answered in Christ before the lips or heart frame the petition. So if Jesus commands his disciples to pray in this manner: “Give us this day our daily bread,” it amounts to a promise, and coming from such a source is in substance an assurance that his people will daily be fed with bread from heaven. It may not always be the bread that our nature will want to eat. We may sometimes draw back and rebel against our daily allotment. It is all very nice and pleasant when our share is the bread of prosperity and gladness; it is quite the reverse when it is the bread of adversity; but we cat both alike nevertheless, being made willing in the day of his power. There is not a true christian on the face of the earth at this moment but desires to be at all times in communion with Christ, not forgetting that there is but one way of coming into such a communion, and that one way is “through much tribulation;” that alone is the gate of heaven. If we would reign with Christ, we must also suffer with him. The Savior is ever present with us; he never leaves or forsakes us, and never will; he is the Friend that sticketh closer than a brother. If I am a child of God, then is he with me now? Certainly so, for his people are his dwelling-place. Then why can I not apprehend his presence? I reach out my hands, but they only grasp the air. I search with my eyes and understanding, but cannot find him. I listen with my ears for his footfall, but silence reigns supreme. If he be present why can I not touch him? Because he is removed beyond the reach of our finite mind and sense, yet is ever near us; but a flimsy veil separates us from him. In the twinkling of an eye the slender thread that binds us to earth might be severed, and in an instant we would stand before him in his unveiled glory, seeing him as he is and being like him. Ah, but is there no way of touching him while we are still here in this mortal state? Yes. How! He is touched with a feeling of our infirmities. That poor soul who is lamenting his uncleanness, his haltness and his blindness, crying out in his despair, “O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” is touching the High Priest. In the sufferings on account of sin and creature weakness, his people touch the Son of God, their elder Brother. This is communing with Christ, and such communing not being carried to heaven on flowery beds of ease; so that to commune with him means to go through the refining fires of the furnace of affliction, to be purged of our dross, to be made conformable to his imago unto which his people were predestinated before the foundation of the world.

My mind was a blank when I began this letter to you, and I was at a loss as to what subject I should touch upon, but as I have been led so I have written, and hope something may present itself to you in a comfortable way.

A new year has begun, and I hope the God of all mercies, the Giver of every perfect gift, will he with you throughout its changing scenes, and sanctify you wholly by his presence for his name’s sake. Amen.

With christian love and fellowship, I am yours in a precious bond,

Signs Of The Times
Volume 74, No. 8
April 15, 1906