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good books imageHow I Know God Answers Prayer.
By
Rosalind Goforth.
Grand Rapids, Michigan. 1921. 141pp.

Review by Dr Ng Peh Cheng

Rosalind Goforth and her husband were sent by the Canadian Presbyterian Church as their missionaries to pioneer a cross-cultural mission work in the Province of Honan, China. Before they left for the field in 1888, Dr Hudson Taylor, of the China Inland Mission imparted these words of spiritual wisdom to the young pioneers, “We understand North Honan is to be your field; we, as a mission, have tried for ten years to enter that province from the south, and have only just succeeded.  It is one of the most anti-foreign provinces in China. . . . . Brother, if you would enter that province, you must go forward on your knees” (p. 16).  They took the advice with them to the field.

The book is not a series of lectures on the spiritual discipline of prayer but prayer as the act of discipline in the spiritual lifestyle of the Goforths. It is a personal reflection of the author on how the act of “going on the knees” had kept them faithful on the field for thirty years.  Her life as a missionary is a record of testimonies of how God answered prayer and she substantiated her theology of prayer with scripture and details of those incidents throughout the book. The incident that led to her belief in trusting God to provide what was insufficient in one’s salary to meet personal needs was cited in Chapter IX.  She also clarified that trusting God to provide what was lacking was not begging for money! (p.124). Many more fascinating stories of God’s supply are testified in Chapter VI. God can even move strangers to accomplish His will!

My mother and I are strangers to you, never having seen or heard either you or your wife. But my mother, who is an invalid, has for some time been restless because of a conviction that has come over her that she should send you some money. So to quiet my mother I am sending you fifty dollars (p. 77).

The God who provides is also the God who protects and the chilling account of how they escaped death during the Boxer uprising was attributed to the power of prayer (Chapter V). The answer to a difficult question posed to her on why God chose to save her family and not some others was directed to the twelfth chapter of Acts.

It was equally heart wrenching for Rosalind to wrestle with God for answers when her daughter, Grace died but another child who suffered from the same disease was spared from death, “Does this case of unanswered prayer shake my faith in God’s willingness and power to answer prayer? No, no!” (p. 40). Sorrow struck again when her one year old, Constance died. Despite the loss, her faith in God to answer prayer remained rooted, “One thing only seemed plain, that I must follow where God should lead. I saw at last that God must come first” (p. 72). 

The following testimonies illustrate the importance and power of prayer of the home church for their missionaries on the field. The incident when Mr. Goforth experienced a sense of confidence and ability to preach in the Chinese language, was miraculously linked to “a number of students had met specially to pray for Mr. Goforth” and the “time of their meeting corresponded with that time of special help in the language” (pp. 16-17).  During the time of the Boxer uprising when missionaries in China were facing the gravest danger, they must be heartened to know that a “great wave of prayer went up for [them] from Christians of all denominations” in their homeland (p. 44). The prayer strengthen the bonds between the missionaries and their home church.  

The author’s account of her learning that God could hear and answer her prayer and acquiring the spiritual habit of prayer as a child should leave a deep impression on parents and teachers of children their duties as spiritual caregivers.   

The most precious recollections of early childhood are associated  with  stories told us by our mother, many of which illustrated the power of  prayer and the impression left upon my child-mind, of a Being invisible but able to hear and help, has never been effaced (p. 6). 

Mrs. Goforth’s prayer seems to focus on petitions to God and may cause some to question her, “To emphasize getting things from God, as you do, is to make prayer too material” (p. 1). Her response was,

To me this seems far from true. God is my Father, I am his child. As truly as I delight to be sought for by my child when he is cold or hungry, ill, or in need of protection, so is it with my Heavenly Father.  Prayer has been hedged about with too many man-made rules.  I am convinced that God has intended prayer to be as simple and natural, and as constant a part of our spiritual life...  Perhaps, however, the most blessed element in this asking and getting from God lies in the strengthening of faith which comes when a definite request has been granted. What more helpful and inspiring than a ringing testimony of what God has done? (pp. 1, 2). As the past has been reviewed, and God’s wonderful faithfulness recalled, there has come a great sense of regret that I have not trusted God more, and asked more of him, both for my family and the Chinese. Yes, it is truly wonderful! But the wonder is not that God can answer prayer, but that he does, when we so imperfectly meet the conditions clearly laid down in his Word” (p. 129).

The book may be published in 1921 but it has unlimited valuable lessons to teach the present generation and the generations of Christians to come on the discipline and power of prayer and the meaning of trusting God who is faithful and can do the impossible. 

Dear BGST Student,

Re: Convocation in January 2005

If you are intending to graduate for the DipCS, MCS or M.Div at the coming convocation in January 2005 it would be a great help to me if you could complete and submit the application form by Monday November 15th.

I will be leaving for a holiday in England on 29th November, and will not be back in Singapore until January 6th. I would like to submit a complete list of those who are hoping to graduate to the other members of Faculty before I leave. This will help them to get on with marking all the necessary assignments.

It may be that you have a number of courses and assignments still to complete, and are not sure whether you will be able to graduate. Please do not delay submitting the application on this account. If it turns out closer to the date that you cannot graduate in 2005, we can always withdraw your application and return your fee, and it will have cost you nothing. If it is at all likely that you will be graduating in January, you should submit the form.

Please do not assume that we already know of your intent to graduate. It may be that we do; but in any case you need to submit the form. If you don’t, there is the danger that we may overlook you!

Lastly, if there are any assignments that you need to submit for courses taught or tutored by me, it would be good if you could aim to submit them a week before I leave (by 22nd November). That way I can mark them before I go.

Best wishes,
Philip Satterthwaite
(Registrar, BGST)

Tentmakers Equipping ‘N’ Training Modular Course

  •  Biblical Basis of Tentmaking    (Dec 4, 2004)

  • Understanding Culture 
    (Jan 4,11,18,25, 2005)

  •  Religions of Asia 
    (Mar 1,8,15,22, 2005)

  • Theology of Work 
    (May 3,10,17,24, 2005)

  • Tentmakers & Ethical Issues (Jul 5,12,19, 26, 2005)

  • Personal Ministry Skills 
    (Sep 6,13,20,27, 2005)

  • Spiritual & Practical Preparation (Dec 2005)

For details and registration, please contact Dr John Lim at 63538071 or email tent@bgst.edu.sg

NEWS BITS

1.       Away from office. Our library staff, Ms Tan Lee Pin, is on leave from 1 to 30 November. Dr Quek Swee Hwa will be leading a group of 36 participants for the Bible Lands Study Tour of Greece and Israel from 26 November to 8 December. Dr Philip Satterthwaite will be away in England from 29 November 04 to 6 January 05 and Dr Ng Peh Cheng will be away from 14 - 31 December.

2.       Congratulations! Dr Aquila Lee (DipCS, 1996; MDiv, 1998; PhD Aberdeen, 2003) was ordained as Pastor with the Korean Association of Independent Churches and Missions (KAICAM) which took place at the Hallelujah Christian Church in Seoul on 14 Oct 2004. Mr Edwin Tay Ed Min (DipCS, 2002; MCS, 2004) obtained the MA with distinction from King’s College, University of London, UK.

CHAPEL NOTES

On 27 October, Dr Satterthwaite spoke on Psalm 150, drawing from it the following points:

·        
Worship is an important part of the Christian life, not an optional extra

·         In worship we declare that God is a reality and respond to that reality

·         That means that our worship must based on reality: we do not have to pretend that things are worse or better in our lives than they really are

·         But on the other hand, Christians who do not worship God are to that extend living in unreality, acting as though we could do without God. Romans 1 tells us that when humans stop giving God the glory things start to go very seriously wrong

·         It is good that we have Chapel at BGST: a time when we put aside our work and worship God, acknowledging the One for whom we are doing the work

Chapel Speaker on 3 November was Dr Quek Swee Hwa. He shared from Isa 54 and Ps.2, linking training with service and showed slides of Cambridge & India.

BGST GENERAL FUND UPDATE:

Budget for the month of Nov 2004 = $ 52,391

Funds received to-date (5 Nov)     = $ 15,915  

Funds needed for current month   = $ 36,476

Budget for Oct - Dec 2004           = $271,735

A Blessed Birthday to…

Mr Wong Chee Boon  8/11
Ms Joan Teoh  8/11
Mr John Chai  9/11
Ms Lim May Kwun  10/11
Mr Tang Kok Fai  11/11
Ms Wong Su Ren  12/11
Ms Chiang Ban Lee  13/11
Ms Chan Young Young  13/11
Mr Lee Kok Wah  14/11
Ms Chrisa Goh  14/11

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