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We Must Tell Jesus

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      Elisha A. Hoffman was born May 7, 1839, in Orwigsburg, Pennsylvania. His father was a minister, and Elisha followed Christ at a young age. He attended Philadelphia public schools, studied science, and then pursued the classics at Union Seminary of the Evangelical Association. He worked for eleven years with the Association’s publishing house in Cleveland, Ohio. Then, following the death of his young wife, he returned to Pennsylvania and devoted thirty-three years to pastor Benton Harbor Presbyterian Church.

Hoffman’s pastime was writing hymns, many of which were inspired by pastoral incidents. One day, for example, while calling on the destitute of Lebanon, Pennsylvania, he met a woman whose depression seemed beyond cure. She opened her heart and poured on him her pent-up sorrows. Wringing her hands, she cried, “What shall I do? Oh, what shall I do?” Hoffman knew what she should do, for he had himself learned the deeper lessons of God’s comfort. He said to the woman, “You cannot do better than to take all your sorrows to Jesus. You must tell Jesus.”

Suddenly the lady’s face lighted up. “Yes!” she cried, “That’s it! I must tell Jesus.” Her words echoed in Hoffman’s ears, and he mulled them over as he returned home. He drew out his pen and started writing, I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! / I cannot bear my burdens alone; / I must tell Jesus! I must tell Jesus! / Jesus can help me, Jesus alone.

Hoffman lived to be ninety, telling Jesus his burdens and giving the church such hymns as What A Wonderful Savior, Down at the Cross, Are You Washed in the Blood?, Leaning on the Everlasting Arms, and a thousand more.

      Tonight, we have been called to prayer by the Alabama Baptist Convention president. He has issued a call to all ministers in our state to pray for our current situation in the United States. But before we begin to pray for the needs in our country, I want us draw instruction from the Word of God. So take your Bibles and turn to Ephesians 6:18. In the final verses of this letter to the church at Ephesus, Paul calls us to take up the full armor of God for spiritual warfare. Life is a battle and we must be equipped to do battle. So in verses 10-17, Paul instructs us on the weapons for war and in this verse instructs us on the energy for war.

      Prayer is key for defeating the foes called Satan, the world and the flesh. Yet, this means of grace is one of the most neglected by the saints of God. Somehow we know the key for victory is prayer, but most of the time we try to win in the flesh. But Paul reminds us that our warfare is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in heavenly places. So we must have the energy to stay in the fight.

      In verse 18, Paul instructs in how we must tell Jesus. In these verses, Paul gives us the power of prayer and the process of prayer. First, let us look at the power of prayer.


            Paul reminds us that we are to pray at all times. The phrase at all times means on every occasion. This means that we are to pray about everything because all things are proper to pray about. No period of life should be without it—youth, middle life, old age, all demand it; no condition of life—adversity, prosperity, sunshine, desolation, under sore temptation, under important duty, under heavy trial, under all the changing circumstances of life, personal, social, Christian. So we must tell Jesus about everything we face in life.

Now notice the power in which we are to pray. We are to pray in the Spirit. For true prayer is spiritual, and it is not true prayer unless by the Holy Spirit the heart is filled with heavenward longings and aspirations, changing our prayer from cold form to heartfelt realities. The ordinary habit of the soul should be prayerful, realizing the presence of God and looking for his grace and guidance.[1]

            The Spirit, according to Scripture, is given to empower us for prayer and helps us pray in our weakness when we do not know what to pray for as we ought (Romans 8:26). He is the power of prayer. Next, Paul instructs us in


            The process is mentioned in the last half of the verse. We are to pray with all prayer and supplication. This means that every form of prayer must be called upon to meet the need: private, congregational, spoken, and flare prayers. Prayer is the general terms while supplication is the special prayer. Supplication is literally a “wanting or need.” It is an urgency based on a presumed need. So we are to issue all kinds of prayers and supplications.

            In offering these kinds of prayers we are to keep alert with all perseverance. The word alert pictures a sleeping man rousing himself. There are many things that keep us from being alert in our prayers such as: drowsiness in the work, a lack of patience in waiting for God, the distractions of the world, etc.

            The idea here is of dispatching a letter and expecting a response.

            So we are to keep alert with all perseverance. The idea communicated is an intense effort despite any difficulty that one may encounter. In other words, we are to persist in our prayer life. Prayer as we know is a serious work on behalf of the believer.


Five Things to Pray for:

1)      Families facing financial struggles as a result of job loss and cut-backs.

2)      Churches to respond with sensitivity and compassion to those in need.

3)      Opportunities to share the good news of Jesus clearly and effectively.

4)      Local, state, and national elected officials to use wisdom in leadership.

5)      Humility, repentance, and a true spiritual awakening in our nation.


[1]The Pulpit Commentary: Ephesians. 2004 (H. D. M. Spence-Jones, Ed.) (260). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

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