The mid-nineteenth century missionary to South Africa Andrew Murray once said of prayer: “The disciples had been with Christ and seen him pray. They had learned to understand something of the connection between His wondrous life in public and His secret life of prayer. They had learned to believe in Him as a Master in the art of prayer – none could pray like Him. And so they came to Him with the request, ‘Lord, teach us to pray.’ And in after years they would have told us that there were few things more wondrous or blessed that He taught them than His lessons on prayer.”
Could there really be anything more wondrous than prayer? We receive our salvation by opening our lips and calling upon the Lord. Through prayer, the Spirit of God searches our heart, convicts us of sin, teaches us truth, and leads us onto righteousness. Our Lord Jesus Christ was a man of prayer par excellence. Every step of the way we see him praying. At his baptism, before he chose The Twelve, in the midst of busy ministry, before asking his disciples who they thought he was, at the mount of transfiguration, right before his betrayal, from the cross, and even now at the right hand of God, we see Jesus praying.
The apostles came to follow their master’s example, for we see them praying after Christ’s resurrection, before choosing Judas’ replacement, before appointing The Seven, when they wanted others to receive the Holy Spirit, when church leaders were in jail, when traveling storming seas, in sickness, and at so many other times. If Jesus needed to pray and if those bold early Christians needed to pray, is there any hope for us if we forsake this sacred privilege?
Many of us know the importance of prayer, yet struggle to maintain a robust prayer life. Our sinful nature protests against prayer, because we know prayer requires vulnerability before God. Prayer requires allowing God to search our thoughts and affections. Furthermore, the Devil delights in the Christian that does not pray. Get a Christian going to church services, singing the hymns, praying the prayers, and thinking he or she has done their duty, and the Devil wins. Without prayer, we do not grow in our Christlikeness.
With such obstacles against us, the simple prayer, “Lord, teach us to pray,” is a good place to start. In the coming weeks we explore the wondrous and blessed act of prayer.