Read an Excerpt
The Only Teacher
"And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1).
The disciples had learned to understand something of the connection between Christ's wondrous life in public and His secret life of prayer. They had been with Him and had seen Him pray. They had learned to believe in Him as a Master in the art of prayer. None could pray like Him. And so they went to Him with the request, "Lord, teach us to pray." In later years they would tell us that there were few things more wonderful or blessed that He taught them than His lessons on prayer. It is still true today that disciples who see Him feel the need of repeating the same request, "Lord, teach us to pray." As we grow in the Christian life, the thought and the faith of the Beloved Master in His never-failing intercession become more precious, and the hope of being like Christ in His intercession gains an attractiveness never before known. As we see Him pray, and remember that there is none who can pray or teach like Him, we feel the petition of the disciples, "Lord, teach us to pray," is just what we need. Everything He is and has is our very own. Because He Himself is our life, we should feel assured that if we ask, He will be delighted to take us into closer fellowship with Himself and teach us to pray as He prays. Go, my brothers! Go to the Blessed Master and ask Him to enroll your names in that school which He always keeps open for those who long to study the Divine art of prayer and intercession! Yes, let us say to the Master as they did of old, "Lord, teach us to pray." As we meditate, we shall find each word of our petition full of meaning. "Lord, teach us to pray." Yes, to pray. This is what we need to be taught. Though in its beginnings prayer is so simple that the feeblest child can pray, it is at the same time the highest and holiest work to which man can rise. Prayer is fellowship with the Unseen and Most Holy One. The powers of the eternal world have been placed at prayer's disposal. It is the very essence of true religion and the channel of all blessings. It is the secret of power and life not only for ourselves, but for others, for the Church, and for the world. It is to prayer that God has given the right to take hold of Him and His strength. It is on prayer that the promises wait for their fulfillment, the Kingdom waits for its coming, and the glory of God waits for its full revelation. How slothful and unfit we are for this blessed work. Only the Spirit of God can enable us to do it right. How speedily we are deceived into resting in a form of prayer, while the power is still missing! Our early training, the teaching of the Church, the influence of habit, the stirring of the emotions-how easily these lead to prayer which has no spiritual power and achieves little. Who wouldn't cry out for someone to teach them true prayer that takes hold of God's strength and achieves much, to which the gates of heaven are really opened wide? Jesus has opened a school in which He trains those of His redeemed ones who especially desire to have power in prayer. Enter it with the petition, "Lord! This is just what we need to be taught! 0 teach us to pray!" "Lord, teach us to pray." Yes, us, Lord. We have read in Your Word about the power Your believing people of long ago. had when they prayed, and what mighty wonders were done in answer to their prayers. This took place under the Old Covenant, in the time of preparation. Now, in these days of fulfillment, how much more will You give Your people a sure sign of Your presence? We have heard the promises given to Your apostles of the power of prayer in Your Name, and have seen how gloriously they experienced their truth. We know for certain they can become true to us, too. We hear continually, even in these days, what glorious tokens of Your power You still give to those who trust You completely. Lord! Teach us to pray with power, too! The promises are for us; the powers and gifts of the heavenly world are for us. 0 teach us to pray so that we may receive abundantly! To us, too, You have entrusted Your work. On our prayer, too, the coming of Your Kingdom depends. In our prayer, too, You can glorify Your Name. "Lord, teach us to pray." We offer ourselves as learners. We want only You to teach us. "Lord, teach us to pray." Yes, we feel the need now of being taught to pray. At first there is no work that appears so simple; later on, none that is more difficult. And the confession is forced from us: We do not know how to pray as we should. It is true we have God's Word with its clear and sure promises, but sin has so darkened our mind that we don't always know how to apply the Word. In spiritual matters we do not always seek the most important things. In temporal matters we are still less able to use the wonderful liberty our Father has given us to ask for what we need. Even when we know what to ask for, so much is still needed to make prayer acceptable. It must be to the glory of God, in full surrender to His will, in full assurance of faith, in the Name of Jesus, and with a perseverance that, if need be, refuses to be denied. All this must be learned. It can only be learned in the school of much prayer, for practice makes perfect. Amid the painful consciousness of ignorance and unworthiness, in the struggle between believing and doubting, the heavenly art of effective prayer is learned. There is One-the Beginner and Finisher of faith and prayer-Who watches over our praying and sees to it that in all who trust Him for it, education in the school of prayer is carried on to perfection. Let the deep undertone of all our prayer be the teachableness that comes from faith in Him as a perfect Teacher, and we can be sure that we will be taught. We will learn to pray in power. Yes, we can depend on His teaching us to pray. "Lord, teach us to pray." No one can teach like Jesus. A pupil needs a teacher who knows his work, who has the gift of teaching, who in patience and love will descend to the pupil's needs. Blessed be God! Jesus is all this and much more. It is Jesus, praying Himself, Who teaches us to pray. He knows what prayer is. He learned it amid the trials and tears of His earthly life. In heaven it is still His beloved work. His life there is prayer. Nothing delights Him more than to find those whom He can take with Him into the Father's presence, clothing them with power to pray down God's blessing to those around them, training them to be His fellow-workers in the intercession by which the Kingdom is to be revealed on earth. He knows how to teach, whether it is by the urgency of felt need, by the confidence that joy inspires, by the studying of the Word, or by the testimony of another believer who knows what it is to have prayer heard. By His Holy Spirit He has access to our hearts and teaches us to pray by showing us the sin that hinders the prayer, or by giving us the assurance that we please God.