Monday, January 30, 2012

Searching for the Ultimate Treasure

A true story is told of the spouses Ron and Betty Goldstein of Staten Island, New York, U.S.A. One day, Betty got seriously ill so she was brought to a hospital. Her husband wrapped in a napkin for safekeeping her 3.5 – carat diamond ring, a treasure she always wore 24 hours everyday. The 63-year-old husband, in a moment of forgetfulness perhaps due to his advance age, happened to throw the napkin in the waste can. It was only after the garbage truck had left that he suddenly remembered the treasured ring of his wife, but by that time the garbage truck collector had already thrown the garbage. He hired several workers to search for the diamond ring. Fortunately, after several hours of search but at a tremendous expense, the workers found the treasure.

In Proverbs Chapter 2, King David told his son, Solomon, “My child (son) listen to me and treasure my instructions. Tune your ears to wisdom, and concentrate on understanding. Cry out for insight and understanding. Search for them as you would for lost money or hidden treasure” (vss. 1-4 NLT). Proverbs continues, “Happy is the person who finds wisdom and gains understanding. For the profit of wisdom is better than silver, and her wages are better than gold. Wisdom is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. She offers you life in her right hand, and riches and honor in her left, she will guide you down delightful paths; all her ways are satisfying. Wisdom is a tree of life to those who embrace her; happy are those who embrace her; happy are those who hold her tightly” (Prov. 3:13-18 NLT).

Thus, very clearly, we are urged to search diligently for something far more precious than any precious jewel – WISDOM. Significantly, there is nothing said in the Bible telling us to search for money. Instead, the Bible tells us, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her, and she shall promote thee: she shall bring thee to honour, when thou dost embrace her. She shall give to thine head an ornament of grace: a crown of glory shall she deliver to thee. Hear, o my son, and receive my sayings; and the years of thy life shall be many” (Prov. 4:7-10 KJV). How many? At least the Scriptural age of 70 and beyond.

Our FGBMFI VP for Southern Mindanao Jerry Guiang, testified during our Saturday fellowship telling us that his younger sister died at the age of 26, his father died at 58, his mother died at 77 and a very rich cousin died at 58 so the latter did not enjoy his riches. He has just celebrated his 60th birthday last January 19, 2012, and he appears to be in good shape, aside from retaining his handsome looks. That is why he has been christened “Mr. Suave.” Now a senior citizen, he has become more prosperous spiritually and materially! Like Abraham of old “who was very rich in cattle (cars, houses) in silver, and in gold” (Gen. 13:2 KJV), Jerry, to my personal assessment, is enjoying such manifold blessings. He has found what is elusive to many: WISDOM. Though not a prophet, God willing, he will reach the scriptural age of 70 and even beyond. The notable difference between him and his relatives is that he has found WISDOM!

Again, Proverbs says: “Choose my instruction rather than silver, and knowledge over pure gold. For wisdom is far more valuable than rubies. Nothing you desire can be compared with it” (Prov. 8:10 KJV). “I love all who love me. Those who search for me will surely find me. Unending riches, honor, wealth, and justice are mine to distribute. My gifts are better than the purest gold, my wages better than sterling silver! I walk in righteousness, in paths of justice. Those who love me inherit wealth, for I fill their treasuries” (Prov. 8:17-21 NLT).

Apostle Paul tells us “Christ is the mighty power of God and the wonderful WISDOM of God (1 Cor. 1:24). Therefore, this strenuous search for WISDOM is actually a search for God Himself, or in person, JESUS CHRIST, our SAVIOR and LORD (Prov. 2:3-5). In fact, inner happiness comes when man finds this WISDOM [the LORD Jesus Christ] (Prov. 3:13).

King David encouraged Solomon to search diligently for this rare and precious jewel who is GOD (in person Jesus Christ) because wisdom is not usually discovered by the casual observer or listener to, or reader of, the Word of God. Understandably, during the time of David, our Lord Jesus Christ was not yet born, though He already existed, because the Apostle John tells us, “In the beginning was the WORD, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). “And the WORD was made flesh, and dwelt among us, [Jesus Christ] (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth” (John 1:14 KJV). Wisdom (Jesus Christ, the ultimate and rarest precious spiritual jewel without equal) is discovered and enjoyed only by those who are diligent, devoted, and determined to seek Him with all their heart and soul (Deut. 4:29; Jer. 29:13; Matt. 7:7).

Once we find Jesus, or rather more appropriately spiritually speaking, if Jesus finds us (as he said you have not chosen me, but I have chosen you [John 15:16], then we have gained eternal life in heaven, which is more valuable than rare diamonds or the purest gold. Then, like Jesus Christ, we shall be filled with truth and love - - Love for God with all our heart, soul, spirit and strength, and love for our neighbor as we love ourselves. Then, our spirit will be bestowed with a large and understanding heart, like King Solomon. What then can we say to the one who has no heart to forgive his neighbor? If we are born again, we know the answer.

One who finds true WISDOM, or JESUS CHRIST, will have everything in life, and like Jesus Christ, particularly eternal life and heaven as his future home, and he shall be with the LORD forever and for eternity - - without end. Money will not be a problem to him. It will just flow into his hands like water in the spring whenever the need arises. Like the Lord Jesus Christ when Peter told him that he has to pay tribute money to the Roman government, he did not have money in his pocket, but he told Peter to “go thou, to the sea, and cast an hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou has opened his mouth, thou shalt find a piece of money; that take, and give unto them for me and thee” (Matt. 17:27 KJV). Peter obeyed and the tax was paid including that of Peter. God provides in mysterious ways!

While still on earth, having the innate sterling character, qualities and virtues of Jesus Christ, this one who finds true WISDOM, assuming he is a normal human being, like Jesus Christ, will customarily go to the synagogue on the Sabbath, which is the church in our modern times. He will be found fellowshiping with the other brethren, “not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as the manner of some is: but exhorting one another; and so much the more, as ye see the day (or second coming) approaching” (Heb. 10:25 KJV). He will be serving willingly and enthusiastically God’s kingdom thru his God-given talent or talents, as at least he has one gift or talent (1 Peter 4:10) even without material remuneration. To him that is merely secondary, for he knows the spiritual or heavenly remuneration is in heaven in time deposit - - waiting for his arrival. He will not lack anything, as King David said, “The young lions do lack, and suffer hunger: but they that seek the Lord shall not want any good thing” (Ps. 34:10), and that the LORD shall not suffer (or allow) the soul of the righteous to famish but he casteth away the substance of the wicked” (Prov. 10:3 KJV). Houses, lands, loved ones and relatives, everlasting life, and anything needed for his living comfort or “ministry” shall be provided (Matt. 19:29). Where God directs, he provides. In fact, through honest means and hardwork, he will have an abundance of these earthly things (Prov. 10:4; John 10:10). These are the solemn promises of the Lord Jesus Christ to the faithful believer. Undoubtedly, many of our “older” members are enjoying the fulfillment of these premises of God.

Remember, however, that the converse is not necessarily true, because if one is a drug Lord or gambling Lord, or big time robber before he is caught, or grafter and corrupt if a politician, or corrupt military officer, or a corrupt government official, or deceitful businessman, before he is charged in court, convicted and imprisoned, he will have plenty of them for a time, but the end shall be sorrow, embarrassment and suffering (Prov. 10:12; 13:11). On the other hand, Solomon said, “the blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it” (Prov. 10:22 KJV). Blessed is the man who finds true WISDOM or is found by God [in person, Jesus Christ] the true and ultimate treasure of man (Deut. 4:29). (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin Jan 28)

Saturday, January 28, 2012

The Best Advertising

One of the first and original disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He was instrumental in witnessing and bringing his own brother to the Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:35-42 KJV).

In my time, in the 50’s, the best fountain pen (there were no ball pens yet to my knowledge then) known to professionals, businessmen, high government officials and students was the “Parker 51”. I believe the pen was invented in 1951. It was a very nice pen as it writes smoothly. It was the most expensive pen then, so only the high caliber professionals, especially lawyers who usually write numerous pleadings, memoranda and letters, and sign numerous copies of the same, high public officials, business executives and the rich scramble to acquire a Parker 51. It was a status symbol pen!

My consuming desire then when I was in law school was to acquire a Parker 51 pen. At seventeen, I got my first employment as stenographer-typist in the law office of Atty. Leopoldo M. Abellera (a classmate of President Marcos), a respected and well-known lawyer in Davao in his generation who later became a Justice in the Court of Appeals and concurrently a BOT Chairman (now the LTFRB) during the Marcos Administration. It took me several years to save from my meager salary, starting at nothing for two months, then received P30.00 a month, which was raised to P50.00 per month after six months, and after a year, P80.00. Thereafter, I received additional P40.00 per month as Stenography instructor at the Rizal Memorial Colleges (RMC).

I had enough money to buy a Parker pen only when I was already in my third year in law, but by that time, there was already a new edition of the pen, the improved Parker 61, the snorkel type. The snorkel type is one which draws ink from the bottle of ink by osmosis, and it was then more costly than the Parker 51. I enjoyed writing with it and I wanted to always write, write and write, especially because all our professors always reminded us to “improve” our handwriting, as aside from making a correct answer to the difficult bar questions, our handwriting should be nice and attractive to read and readable, especially because the bar examiners and correctors are usually old reputable lawyers with thick lenses in their eyeglasses. Brilliant men, but matanda na. My joy to own a Parker 61 pen defies description in words. I then saw to it that I used my treasured Parker 61 when I took the bar exam. By God’s grace, I passed the bar on my first try, and for more than three decades, I preserved my treasured Parker 61. I somewhat “idolized”, for lack of a better term, my pen that I felt incomplete without it in my shirt pocket, until one day, after so many years of constant use, it naturally wore out of use. To my knowledge, there are no more Parker 51 or 61 in the market.

By God’s providence, and I praise God for it, my youngest brother whom I sent to school from high school to college and who is now working in the bank of Saudi Arabia, the equivalent of our Central Bank in the Philippines, upon my asking, cheerfully gave me a gift of Mont Blanc men’s ballpen worth US$500.00, and much later, perhaps realizing that the gift he gave me was not enough to pay his debt of gratitude, he gave me a Mont Blanc fountain pen for my use in signing important pleadings and documents. Indeed, it is true that when we “ask, it shall be given back to us in good measure, pressed down and shaken together shall men give into our bosom” (Luke 11:9 and Luke 6:38). This is especially so if we have previously given something or rendered worthwhile service to that person we ask from. It is this Mont Blanc ballpen I am using to write the draft of my numerous articles published in this bulletin. Yes, I love very much to write and write with my new treasured Mont Blanc ballpen. This is now my newfound ministry. Unspeakable is my joy and I feel spiritually rewarded in writing articles for our Saturday bulletin despite my busy schedule, and am inspired beyond measure when sometimes our President or the assigned Emcee reads a line or a paragraph in my article during our Saturday fellowship, which signifies their agreement to what I wrote by inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

How come, the Parker 51 or later 61 pen became very famous and sought for by men I have mentioned above despite its prohibitive cost? Because of advertisement by word-of-mouth by those who have used it and were very much satisfied. This is the best advertisement – by word-of-mouth!

Some years ago, a car manufacturer used a by-word that stressed the importance of word-of-mouth advertising. It simply said, “Ask the man who owns one.” There’s nothing quite like a personal testimony from a satisfied customer or client.

Today, this is the norm of advertisement by all businesses engaged in the sale of various non-prescribed medicines and vitamins and various beauty products. The system is called “product endorsement”. Usually, popular and “idolized” personalities are used to advertise by word of mouth. They claim to be satisfied by the product, by word of mouth! And this is most effective.

How does a businessman, a restaurant, or a professional, especially doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects, etc. acquire a good number of customers or clientele? Through advertisement by word of mouth of their satisfied customers, patients and clientele, or to the engineers and architects, by the works of their hands.

This advertisement business is the principal source of prosperity of our fellowship member Cris Arrieta. Of course, by the providence and grace of God. Undoubtedly, he is one of our active and generous members. The wise King Solomon said, “It is possible to give freely and become more wealthy, but those who are stingy will lose everything. The generous prosper and are satisfied; those who refresh others will themselves be refreshed” (Prov. 11:24-25 NLT). Cris now owns a Jaguar (one of only two in Davao) and a number of other branded cars, and he lives in an exclusive subdivision in our city. He is almost able to finish a U-shaped 5-storey building along Quimpo Boulevard where the tallest condo being constructed along J.P. Laurel Avenue (Abreeza) this city is advertised, and the advertising of Coca-cola, the largest selling softdrink in the world is installed, and he is the first to have a LED Advertising in Mindanao. His building, to my perception, is very impressive and beautiful in design, just like he has an attractive and beautiful wife like a movie actress.

The Lord Jesus Christ was a master advertiser by word of mouth. He told his disciples: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” (Matt. 28:19-20 KJV). In one short sentence: “By word-of-mouth”. Imagine GOD, Jesus Christ in person, is the one backing up our word of mouth advertisement! And we have the best and ultimate “product”, so to speak, to advertise. If we advertise Jesus Christ according to the Word of God, “totoo talaga at hindi tayo mapapahiya”.

In the gospel of John, we read about Andrew, who went first to his brother Peter and exclaimed, “We have found the Messiah.” He then “brought him to Jesus” (John 1:41-42). Andrew’s personal encounter with Christ and the realization that He was the Messiah prompted him to introduce his closest relative to the Savior. This is what we do in our FGBMFI Chapter. So, praise God, since our fellowship was established way back in 1973, we have the most number of members, and are the most active chapter in the Philippines!

When we witness to unsaved people and tell them what God says about their lost condition and need of a Savior, we are personally recommending or advertising by word of mouth the LORD Jesus Christ to them. Thus, we are taking the opportunity to tell them what He has done for us and how He has satisfied our deepest spiritual, as well as our material and physical needs, to the glory of God, not of ourselves. This is the best advertising of all. When witnessing, if people ask, “How do you know it’s true? Of course, they can see what Christ has done for us. We are Christ’s “Letters of Recommendation” or advertisers or endorsers to a lost world.

Our fellowship Founder Demos Shakarian, perhaps had the aforequoted verses of truth and human insights in his mind when GOD inspired him to make the personal testimonies of Full Gospel members as a means and method to advertise the Lord Jesus Christ by word of mouth. Through their personal testimonies which are visible in their lives, people who will hear will be persuaded to receive by faith the LORD Jesus Christ as their Jehovah Jireh (provider), and most important of all, their only way to salvation of their souls. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No man cometh unto the Father, but by me (John 14:6 KJV). He also said, “I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live” (John 11:25 KJV). This, of course, means though we physically die, yet our soul and spirit lives eternally, if we have received by faith our LORD Jesus Christ into our hearts (Rev. 3:20) and confessed to GOD and repented of all our sins. In short, “a born again” person like Nicodemus (John 3:3-5). So, my friends, come join us in fellowship at FGBMFI, Davao City Chapter at Grand Men Seng Hotel every Saturday at 7:00 A.M. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin Jan 21)

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Value of Bible Study

Not all of us can have the golden opportunity or luxury of time to enroll in a reputable Bible School where the Word of Truth (without any adulteration of the traditions of men) is taught. By this, I mean every truth is backed up by scriptural verse or verses not by what other respected religious leaders have said or done or just because said act has been traditionally done by men of old.

When I enrolled in Bible School in the early 70’s, I found the study of the Word of God fascinating and extremely interesting. It is a study of the origin of man and other creations; the interesting and instructive teachings and parables of the Lord Jesus Christ; the unadulterated stories of great Bible characters like Moses, Abraham, David, Solomon, Hezekiah, and many others, which serve as our examples for living; the writings of the prophets for our present and future instruction and guidance (prophesy is history written in advance); the Psalms for music lovers and for inspiration of the soul (music is the language of the soul); study of wisdom literature for those lovers of philosophy (the science of correct reasoning); and most important of all, the study of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ, not of good works, not of ourselves: it is the gift of God. (Eph. 2:8-9). It is more interesting than the study of the law profession. I enjoyed very much my study of the Word more than I enjoyed my study of the law profession, especially because there was no difficult bar examination to pass.

The Psalmist King David, said: “Behold, I long for Your precepts; quicken me in Your righteousness” (Ps. 119:40 KJV). “The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver” (vs. 72). “O how I love thy law! It is my meditation all the day” (vs. 97). “How sweet are thy words unto my taste! Yea, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” “Through thy precepts, I get understanding: therefore I hate every false way” (vs. 104). “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (vs. 105). “I hate vain thoughts: but thy law do I love” (vs. 113). “Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea above fine gold” (vs. 127). “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them (or nothing shall cause them to stumble” (vs. 165 NLT).

All scripture is given by inspiration of God, - - “able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus Christ” (2 Tim. 3:15) making “the man of God . . . perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works” (vs. 17). Thus, one of the indications of a saved man is the good works he has done or is doing heartily for the kingdom of God, without expecting any return, financial or otherwise.

The Book of books (or the Bible) has the highest claims to our reverent attention because it “is profitable for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). It is significant to note, “first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet 1:20-21 KJV).

Superficial study of the Word of God cannot meet the claims it has upon us nor give us the benefit that is promised in the Word. To study one passage until its significance is clear to the mind and its relation to the plan of salvation is of more value than the reading of many chapters with no definite purpose in view and no positive spiritual instruction gained. We cannot obtain wisdom from the Word of God, which every man needs, without giving earnest and prayerful attention to its study. It is true that some portions of Scripture are, indeed, too plain to be misunderstood, but there are many portions whose meaning cannot be seen at a glance, for the truth, most of the time, does not lie upon the surface. For this reason, we need to be taught by expert and experienced Bible teachers.

Fortunate is the man who knows the law of man and the law of God and who obeys both! A leader who does not know the Word of God and therefore does not do its precepts will never succeed! Contrariwise, if a leader knows Jesus Christ and follows his example, he is no tyrant nor vindictive but full of love and, like King Solomon, with a large and understanding heart.

No study is better to give energy to the mind, to strengthen the intellect, than the study of the Word of God. No other book is so potent in elevating the thoughts, in giving vigor to the faculties, as is the Bible, which contains the most ennobling truths. If God’s Word were studied as it should be, we would see breadth of mind, stability of purpose, nobility of character, such as is rarely seen in this valley of tears and joy.

The disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ were first taught “live-in” - - full time day and night by our Lord Jesus for at least three and-a-half years before they were sent out to minister and teach and preach the gospel (Good News). They were ordinary people but having been mentored by Jesus Christ by his example and anointed by the Holy Ghost during the Pentecost made them extraordinary “men of God”. This makes the difference between them and those, even today, who only learned the scriptures in theological seminaries, in Bible schools, or by self-study. That is why in our Saturday fellowship, it has been a tradition that only those known to be good and experienced teachers or preachers of the Word are invited to share and preach the gospel, so that our knowledge of the Word of God will not be adulterated with traditions of men or elders or by pagan practices, but rather we are taught the ordinances taught by Jesus Christ, his disciples and by his Apostle through the various canonized epistles [letters] included in our Bible (1 Cor. 11:2). Experience is the best teacher.

Why did God drive away the inhabitants of Canaan to be inhabited by his chosen race - - the Hebrew people led by Abraham and give them “the land of the Canaanites”? (Exodus 13:11). In fact, he instructed the Hebrew (later called Israelites) to “destroy these seven idol worshipping nations utterly”, “nor show mercy unto them” (Deut. 7:1-2) so that these treasured and favored Israelites will not be influenced by their paganistic practices, to name some of which were: they have many or different gods, like Baal, Astoreth, Dagon, etc. They worship the idols of these gods. The Apostle John made this very clear and reiterated it in 1 John 5:21 (KJV) by saying: “Little children, keep yourselves from idols.” They offer children/human sacrifices to these pagan gods. On the contrary, the teaching of Jesus Christ is: “Suffer little children, and forbid them not to come to me: for of such is the kingdom of God” (Matt. 19:14). He loves children. In fact, he loves all men for “he created man after his own image, in the image of God he created he him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27 KJV). Man was God’s last and special creation - - his “obra maestra”. That is why he loves man (including children and women) very dearly that he sent/gave his only begotten Son to redeem mankind. And especially women because woman is a special “revised” creation for men. Thus, God said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him” (or companion) (Gen. 2:18 KJV).

If there is anything that angers God most as vividly demonstrated by his killing about three thousand men in a day, it is the paganistic practice of idol worship (Exodus 32:7-10, 28). I wonder if the scramble to touch the black Nazarene in Quiapo, Manila, so their “wish” for anything - - to long life, or healing could be granted by God is also a form of idol worship. Hopefully we will not be driven away from our dear Fatherland like the Canaanite nations.

One of the mortal sins of Corinthian people was the sin of idolatry. So the Apostle Paul told them: “Wherefore my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry” (1 Cor. 10:14).

Of all the books that flood the world, however valuable, the Bible is the Book of books, the bestseller of all, read by monarchs, kings, presidents, rich and poor alike, and most deserving of our study and admiration.

The Bible gives not only instruction concerning the wonders of the universe; it reveals to our understanding the character of the creator of the heavens and the earth and all that are in them, and will make us “wise unto salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ”. It describes heaven where it is written that only those whose names “are written in the Lamb’s book of life are allowed to enter” (Rev. 21:1-27). There, if our name is written in the book of life, we “shall see him as he is” and “we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2).

The one who studies the Bible holds converse with patriarchs and prophets. Contact is made with truth clothed in elevated language, which exerts a fascinating power over the mind and lifts the thoughts from the things of earth to the divine, to the glory of the future immortal life with our only one and true God who, in person, is the Lord Jesus Christ. (FGBMFI Davao City Chapter Bulletin Jan 14, 2012)

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The Primacy of Prayer in Our Daily Life

The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 1:9) says the wise King Solomon.

When I was in Bible School in 1974, one of our subjects was Christian Service which was actually actual practice in the ministry. I was then already on the eleventh year in the practice of my profession as a lawyer.

Having a surplus military jeep which was then the favorite and appropriate ride in Davao due to the rough condition of our roads particularly in the provinces, I volunteered to drive and assist our Christian Service Instructor in the Saturday Prison Ministry at the Davao Penal Colony (DAPECOL) somewhere in the boundary of Panabo and Sto. Tomas, Davao del Norte. I enjoyed being with my teacher because we were served with abundant fresh and luscious fruits and when we go home we have plenty of fruits, like large papayas and assorted vegetables to bring home to our family. Besides, there were beautifully carved small corner round tables and tea tables made out of Narra roots for sale from the prisoners at very low and affordable prices. I still have them in our home, and also a long narra dining table with carvings which I bought for only P500.00 and which I converted into a conference table now in our law office. These are my material lasting remembrance in my Bible school days, which are now a rarity because the vast DAPECOL area abounding with Narra trees has been converted into a plantation of exportable Cavendish bananas.

After a few Saturday meetings in DAPECOL, at the start of the meeting, my teacher without previous notice to me suddenly announced, “Hilingin natin si Atty. Cariaga na magbigay ng opening prayer.” Although, except for our team composed of my teacher, her assistant and myself, everybody was a prisoner, yet I felt extremely nervous. That was my first time to make a “public” prayer, especially because being an Ilocano, I ought to pray in Tagalog which was the medium of speech in DAPECOL. I tell you, I did not know how to start my prayer; I do not recall now what I said; and I did not know how to end my prayer. Deep in my heart, I knew that was a colossal failure on my part. I was so nervous and embarrassed beyond measure and description in words, especially because everybody knew I was a lawyer. How come I did not know how to pray? And more so, as I was driving for home, my teacher remarked, “Hindi ka sanay mag-pray ano?” I tell you, I was not able to sleep well for about a week thinking of my extreme embarrassment. Personally, I no longer wanted to go back to DAPECOL and face again the congregation of prisoners, but at the same time I did not like to fail in my Christian service subject.

Since then, I resolved to practice by myself alone how to pray aloud, and I bought books on prayer, so if called again to pray, I would know already how and what to pray. Since then, while driving to DAPECOL, I always tried to frame in my mind how and what to pray just in case my teacher will call on me again! I learned from my mistake.

Experience is the best teacher! This is my lasting spiritual legacy from my DAPECOL ministry.

What is prayer? The simplest definition of prayer is talking to God about anything under the sun. On the other hand, the answer of God and how he will answer is already written in the Bible. When and how often should we pray? King David, describe in the Bible as “a man after God’s own heart”, when he was already king said, “Evening, and morning and at noon will I pray” (Ps. 55:17). The great Apostle Paul said, “Pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Of course, this is a figurative statement which should not be taken literally, for then we can’t do our business anymore, and earn a living. But spiritually speaking, this is possible. “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Eph. 6:18). “For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matt. 6:8). In fact, “The LORD knoweth the thoughts of man” (Ps. 94.11). “The Lord knoweth the thoughts of the wise, that they are vain” (1 Cor. 3:20).

The Lord Jesus Christ is our best example. In the gospel written by Mark, Jesus was rendering overtime deep in the evening attending to, and healing many, that were brought to him that were diseased, and them that were possessed with devils, and afflicted with diverse diseases (Mark 1:34). “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed” (vs. 35).

Before he told his disciples to distribute the bread and fish to feed the five thousand people excluding women and children, “he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke the loaves, and gave them to his disciples to set before them” (Mark 6:41).

Thus, whenever the Lord Jesus does something miraculous, the first thing he does is to look up to his Father in heaven and pray. When Lazarus died for four days already, in resurrecting him, “Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou has sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus come forth” (John 11:41-43). And Lazarus resurrected! Jesus Christ prayed to his Father for his disciples and all believers (John 17).

When he was crucified, his first utterance was, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

Space and time will not permit numerous examples in our Bible of the prayers uttered by great Bible characters like Abraham, Moses, King David, Solomon, other kings like Hezekiah, etc. and the prophets. But the moral lesson is that no matter how fortunate or blessed we are in being bestowed by God with extraordinary mind or ability, we can’t rely on our own efforts alone, we have to always depend on God who promised, “I’ll never leave you nor forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5) and “Lo, I’m with you always to the end of the world” (Matt. 28:20).

God does not require us to be the best; he merely requires us to do our best.

The best doctor before he does a difficult and delicate surgery, always prays to God to give him wisdom and to stable his mind, nerves and hands. The best lawyer when he sits down to write any pleading on behalf of his client, or enter into actual trial or hearing in court ought first to pray to God for wisdom and a large and understanding heart so he can ask proper and pertinent questions, and adduce evidence to bring out the truth, or prepare a persuasive pleading, remembering what King Solomon, the wisest man that ever lived on earth, said, “From a wise mind comes wise speech: the words of the wise are persuasive” (Prov. 16:23 NLT). In the King James version (KJV), this is how this proverb is stated: “The heart of the wise teaches his mouth, and addeth learning to his speech.” Meaning, we learn something good from a wise man’s speech. So, let us keep listening to the wise. Let us master Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon, the Psalms and the book of Job.

Solomon emphasizes, “Wise speech is rarer and more valuable than gold and rubies” (Prov. 20:15 NLT).

The disciples of the Lord Jesus asked him, “Lord teach us how to pray.”

The Lord Jesus said: “When ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen (pagan) do; for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking”. A repetitious and memorized prayer is of pagan origin which normally does not come from the heart, and means nothing before God! Then he gave them a sample pattern prayer, which is now popularly known as the Lord’s prayer. He said, “After this manner therefore pray ye:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matt. 6:9-13 KJV).

This is the most perfect prayer, as it is brief but complete as it embraces everything material, physical and spiritual needs of every man. The Acrostic is: A-doration; C-onfession; T-hanksgiving; S-upplication (ACTS).

Martin Luther said: “The fewer the words the better the prayer”.

A certain restaurant owner advertised that Christians are entitled to fifty (50%) discount. A “barkada” of young people ordered the best and most expensive menu relying that they will only pay 50% of the total bill. After they have eaten to their complete satisfaction, they tried to claim for the advertised discount of 50% because they said, they are Christians. The Cashier refused to honor their claim. The reason: they did not pray before taking their meal. “Thou then art not a Christian that art not a praying person” and the Cashier further said: “Actions speak louder than words.”