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´╗┐Title: Lord, Teach Us To Pray
Author: Murray, Andrew, 1828-1917
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Lord, Teach Us
To Pray

By Rev. Andrew Murray

Henry Altemus

Copyright, 1896, by HENRY ALTEMUS.




The disciples had been with Christ, and seen Him pray. They had
learnt to understand something of the connection between His
wondrous life in public, and His secret life of prayer. They had
learnt 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 wonderful or blessed that He
taught them than His lessons on prayer.

And now still it comes to pass, as He is praying in a certain
place, that disciples who see Him thus engaged 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 becomes evermore
precious, and the hope of being _Like Christ_ in His intercession
gains an attractiveness before unknown. And as we see Him pray,
and remember that there is none who can pray like Him, and none
who can teach like Him, we feel the petition of the disciples,
'Lord, teach us to pray,' is just what we need. And as we think
how all He is and has, how He Himself is our very own, how He is
Himself our life, we feel assured that we have but to ask, and He
will be delighted to take us up into closer fellowship with
Himself, and teach us to pray even as He prays.

Come, my brothers! Shall we not go to the Blessed Master and ask
Him to enrol our names too anew in that school which He always
keeps open for those who long to continue their studies in the
Divine art of prayer and intercession? Yes, let us this very day
say to the Master, as they did of old, 'Lord, teach us to pray.'
As we meditate we shall find each word of the petition we bring
to be 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 feeble child can pray, yet it is at the same time the highest
and holiest work to which man can rise. It is fellowship with the
Unseen and Most Holy One. The powers of the eternal world have
been placed at its disposal. It is the very essence of true
religion, the channel of all blessings, the secret of power and
life. Not only for ourselves, but for others, for the Church, 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 fulfilment, the kingdom for its coming, the glory
of God for its full revelation. And for this blessed work, how
slothful and unfit we are. It is only the Spirit of God can
enable us to do it aright. How speedily we are deceived into a
resting in the form, while the power is wanting. 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 avails but little. True prayer, that
takes hold of God's strength, that availeth much, to which the
gates of heaven are really opened wide--who would not cry, Oh for
some one to teach me thus to pray?

Jesus has opened a school, in which He trains His redeemed ones,
who specially desire it, to have power in prayer. Shall we not
enter it with the petition, Lord! it is just this we need to be
taught! O teach us to _pray_.

'Lord, teach _us_ to pray.' Yes, _us_, Lord. We have read in Thy
Word with what power Thy believing people of old used to pray,
and what mighty wonders were done in answer to their prayers.
And if this took place under the Old Covenant, in the time of
preparation, how much more wilt Thou not now, in these days of
fulfilment, give Thy people this sure sign of Thy presence in
their midst. We have heard the promises given to Thine apostles
of the power of prayer in Thy 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 Thy power Thou dost still give to those
who trust Thee fully. Lord! these all are men of like passions
with ourselves; teach _us_ to pray so too. The promises are for
us, the powers and gifts of the heavenly world are for us. O
teach _us_ to pray so that we may receive abundantly. To us too
Thou hast entrusted Thy work, on our prayer too the coming of Thy
kingdom depends, in our prayer too Thou canst glorify Thy name;
'Lord, teach us to pray.' Yes, us, Lord; we offer ourselves as
learners; we would indeed be taught of Thee. 'Lord, teach _us_ to

'Lord, _teach_ us to pray.' Yes, we feel the need now of being
_taught_ to pray. At first there is no work appears so simple;
later on, none that is more difficult; and the confession is
forced from us: We know not how to pray as we ought. It is true
we have God's Word, with its clear and sure promises; but sin has
so darkened our mind, that we know not always how to apply the
Word. In spiritual things we do not always seek the most needful
things, or fail in praying according to the law of the sanctuary.
In temporal things we are still less able to avail ourselves of
the wonderful liberty our Father has given us to ask what we
need. And even when we know what to ask, how much there 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
effectual prayer is learnt. Because, even when we do not remember
it, 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_ their education in the school of prayer shall
be carried on to perfection. Let but the deep undertone of all
our prayer be the teachableness that comes from a sense of
ignorance, and from faith in Him as a perfect teacher, and we may
be sure we shall be taught, we shall learn to pray in power. Yes,
we may depend upon it, HE _teaches_ to pray.

'_Lord_, teach us to pray.' None can teach like Jesus, none but
Jesus; therefore we call on Him, 'LORD, teach us to pray.' 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. He knows
what prayer is. It is Jesus, praying Himself, who teaches 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,
whom He can clothe with power to pray down God's blessing on
those around them, whom He can train to be His fellow-workers in
the intercession by which the kingdom is to be revealed on earth.
He knows how to teach. Now by the urgency of felt need, then by
the confidence with which joy inspires. Here by the teaching of
the Word, there by the testimony of another believer who knows
what it is to have prayer heard. By His Holy Spirit, He has
access to our heart, and teaches us to pray by showing us the sin
that hinders the prayer, or giving us the assurance that we
please God. He teaches, by giving not only thoughts of what to
ask or how to ask, but by breathing within us the very spirit of
prayer, by living within us as the Great Intercessor. We may
indeed and most joyfully say, 'Who teacheth like Him?' Jesus
never taught His disciples how to preach, only how to pray. He
did not speak much of what was needed to preach well, but much of
praying well. To know how to speak to God is more than knowing
how to speak to man. Not power with men, but power with God is
the first thing. Jesus loves to teach us how to pray.

What think you, my beloved fellow-disciples! would it not be just
what we need, to ask the Master for a month to give us a course
of special lessons on the art of prayer? As we meditate on the
words He spake on earth, let us yield ourselves to His teaching
in the fullest confidence that, with such a teacher, we shall
make progress. Let us take time not only to meditate, but to
pray, to tarry at the foot of the throne, and be trained to the
work of intercession. Let us do so in the assurance that amidst
our stammerings and fears He is carrying on His work most
beautifully. He will breathe His own life, which is all prayer,
into us. As He makes us partakers of His righteousness and His
life, He will of His intercession too. As the members of His
body, as a holy priesthood, we shall take part in His priestly
work of pleading and prevailing with God for men. Yes, let us
most joyfully say, ignorant and feeble though we be, 'Lord, teach
us to pray.'


       *       *       *       *       *

Blessed Lord! who ever livest to pray, Thou canst teach me too to
pray, me to live ever to pray. In this Thou lovest to make me
share Thy glory in heaven, that I should pray without ceasing,
and ever stand as a priest in the presence of my God.

Lord Jesus! I ask Thee this day to enrol my name among those who
confess that they know not how to pray as they ought, and
especially ask Thee for a course of teaching in prayer. Lord!
teach me to tarry with Thee in the school, and give Thee time to
train me. May a deep sense of my ignorance, of the wonderful
privilege and power of prayer, of the need of the Holy Spirit as
the Spirit of prayer, lead me to cast away my thoughts of what I
think I know, and make me kneel before Thee in true teachableness
and poverty of spirit.

And fill me, Lord, with the confidence that with such a teacher
as Thou art I shall learn to pray. In the assurance that I have
as my teacher, Jesus, who is ever praying to the Father, and by
His prayer rules the destinies of His Church and the world, I
will not be afraid. As much as I need to know of the mysteries of
the prayer-world, Thou wilt unfold for me. And when I may not
know, Thou wilt teach me to be strong in faith, giving glory to

Blessed Lord! Thou wilt not put to shame Thy scholar who trusts
Thee, nor, by Thy grace, would he Thee either. Amen.




    'The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall
    worship the Father in spirit and truth: for such doth the
    Father seek to be His worshippers. God is a Spirit: and they
    that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and truth.'--JOHN
    iv. 23, 24.

These words of Jesus to the woman of Samaria are His first
recorded teaching on the subject of prayer. They give us some
wonderful first glimpses into the world of prayer. The Father
_seeks_ worshippers: our worship satisfies His loving heart and
is a joy to Him. He seeks _true worshippers_, but finds many not
such as He would have them. True worship is that which is _in
spirit and truth_. _The Son has come_ to open the way for this
worship in spirit and in truth, and teach it us. And so one of
our first lessons in the school of prayer must be to understand
what it is to pray in spirit and in truth, and to know how we can
attain to it.

To the woman of Samaria our Lord spoke of a threefold worship.
There is, first, the ignorant worship of the Samaritans: 'Ye
worship that which ye know not.' The second, the intelligent
worship of the Jew, having the true knowledge of God: 'We worship
that which we know; for salvation is of the Jews.' And then the
new, the spiritual worship which He Himself has come to
introduce: 'The hour is coming, and is now, when the true
worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth.' From
the connection it is evident that the words 'in spirit and truth'
do not mean, as is often thought, earnestly, from the heart, in
sincerity. The Samaritans had the five books of Moses and some
knowledge of God; there was doubtless more than one among them
who honestly and earnestly sought God in prayer. The Jews had the
true full revelation of God in His word, as thus far given; there
were among them godly men, who called upon God with their whole
heart. And yet not 'in spirit and truth,' in the full meaning of
the words. Jesus says, '_The hour is coming, and now is_:' it is
only in and through Him that the worship of God will be in spirit
and truth.

Among Christians one still finds the three classes of
worshippers. Some who in their ignorance hardly know what they
ask: they pray earnestly, and yet receive but little. Others
there are, who have more correct knowledge, who try to pray with
all their mind and heart, and often pray most earnestly, and yet
do not attain to the full blessedness of worship in spirit and
truth. It is into this third class we must ask our Lord Jesus to
take us; we must be taught of Him how to worship in spirit and
truth. This alone is spiritual worship; this makes us worshippers
such as the Father seeks. In prayer everything will depend on our
understanding well and practising the worship in spirit and

'God is _a Spirit_ and they that worship Him must worship Him _in
spirit_ and truth.' The first thought suggested here by the
Master is that there must be harmony between God and His
worshippers; such as God is, must His worship be. This is
according to a principle which prevails throughout the universe:
we look for correspondence between an object and the organ to
which it reveals or yields itself. The eye has an inner fitness
for the light, the ear for sound. The man who would truly worship
God, would find and know and possess and enjoy God, must be in
harmony with Him, must have a capacity for receiving Him. Because
God _is Spirit_, we must worship _in spirit_. As God is, so His

And what does this mean? The woman had asked our Lord whether
Samaria or Jerusalem was the true place of worship. He answers
that henceforth worship is no longer to be limited to a certain
place: 'Woman, believe Me, _the hour cometh_ when neither in
this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father.' As
God is Spirit, not bound by space or time, but in His infinite
perfection always and everywhere the same, so His worship would
henceforth no longer be confined by place or form, but spiritual
as God Himself is spiritual. A lesson of deep importance. How
much our Christianity suffers from this, that it is confined to
certain times and places. A man who seeks to pray earnestly in
the church or in the closet, spends the greater part of the week
or the day in a spirit entirely at variance with that in which he
prayed. His worship was the work of a fixed place or hour, not of
his whole being. God is a spirit: He is the Everlasting and
Unchangeable One; what He is, He is always and in truth. Our
worship must even so be in spirit and truth: His worship must be
the spirit of our life; our life must be worship in spirit as God
is Spirit.

'God is a Spirit: and they that worship Him must worship Him in
spirit and truth.' The second thought that comes to us is that
this worship in the spirit must come from God Himself. God is
Spirit: He alone has Spirit to give. It was for this He sent His
Son, to fit us for such spiritual worship, by giving us the Holy
Spirit. It is of His own work that Jesus speaks when He says
twice, 'The hour cometh,' and then adds, 'and is now.' He came to
baptize with the Holy Spirit; the Spirit could not stream forth
till He was glorified (_John i. 33, vii. 37, 38, xvi. 7_). It was
when He had made an end of sin, and entering into the Holiest of
all with His blood, had there on our behalf _received_ the Holy
Spirit (_Acts ii. 33_), that He could send Him down to us as the
Spirit of the Father. It was when Christ had redeemed us, and we
in Him had received the position of children, that the Father
sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts to cry, 'Abba,
Father.' The worship in spirit is the worship of the Father in
the Spirit of Christ, the Spirit of Sonship.

This is the reason why Jesus here uses the name of Father. We
never find one of the Old Testament saints personally appropriate
the name of child or call God his Father. The worship _of the
Father_ is only possible to those to whom the Spirit of the Son
has been given. The worship _in spirit_ is only possible to those
to whom the Son has revealed the Father, and who have received
the spirit of Sonship. It is only Christ who opens the way and
teaches the worship in spirit.

And _in truth_. That does not only mean, _in sincerity_. Nor does
it only signify, in accordance with the truth of God's Word. The
expression is one of deep and Divine meaning. Jesus is 'the
only-begotten of the Father, _full of_ grace and _truth_.' 'The
law was given by Moses; grace and _truth came_ by Jesus Christ.'
Jesus says, '_I am the truth_ and the life.' In the Old
Testament all was shadow and promise; Jesus brought and gives the
reality, _the substance_, of things hoped for. In Him the
blessings and powers of the eternal life are our actual
possession and experience. Jesus is full of grace and truth; the
Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth; through Him the grace that is
in Jesus is ours indeed, and truth a positive communication out
of the Divine life. And so worship in spirit is worship _in
truth_; actual living fellowship with God, a real correspondence
and harmony between the Father, who is a Spirit, and the child
praying in the spirit.

What Jesus said to the woman of Samaria, she could not at once
understand. Pentecost was needed to reveal its full meaning. We
are hardly prepared at our first entrance into the school of
prayer to grasp such teaching. We shall understand it better
later on. Let us only begin and take the lesson as He gives it.
We are carnal and cannot bring God the worship He seeks. But
Jesus came to give the Spirit: He has given Him to us. Let the
disposition in which we set ourselves to pray be what Christ's
words have taught us. Let there be the deep confession of our
inability to bring God the worship that is pleasing to Him; the
childlike teachableness that waits on Him to instruct us; the
simple faith that yields itself to the breathing of the Spirit.
Above all, let us hold fast the blessed truth--we shall find
that the Lord has more to say to us about it--that the knowledge
of the Fatherhood of God, the revelation of His infinite
Fatherliness in our hearts, the faith in the infinite love that
gives us His Son and His Spirit to make us children, is indeed
the secret of prayer in spirit and truth. This is the new and
living way Christ opened up for us. To have Christ the Son, and
_The Spirit of the Son_, dwelling within us, and revealing the
Father, this makes us true, spiritual worshippers.


       *       *       *       *       *

Blessed Lord! I adore the love with which Thou didst teach a
woman, who had refused Thee a cup of water, what the worship of
God must be. I rejoice in the assurance that Thou wilt no less
now instruct Thy disciple, who comes to Thee with a heart that
longs to pray in spirit and in truth. O my Holy Master! do teach
me this blessed secret.

Teach me that the worship in spirit and truth is not of man, but
only comes from Thee; that it is not only a thing of times and
seasons, but the outflowing of a life in Thee. Teach me to draw
near to God in prayer under the deep impression of my ignorance
and my having nothing in myself to offer Him, and at the same
time of the provision Thou, my Saviour, makest for the Spirit's
breathing in my childlike stammerings. I do bless Thee that in
Thee I am a child, and have a child's liberty of access; that in
Thee I have the spirit of Sonship and of worship of truth. Teach
me, above all, Blessed Son of the Father, how it is the
revelation of the Father that gives confidence in prayer; and let
the infinite Fatherliness of God's Heart be my joy and strength
for a life of prayer and of worship. Amen.




    'But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine inner chamber,
    and having shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in
    secret, and thy Father which seeth in secret shall recompense
    thee.'--MATT. vi. 6.

After Jesus had called His first disciples He gave them their
first public teaching in the Sermon on the Mount. He there
expounded to them the kingdom of God, its laws and its life. In
that kingdom God is not only King, but Father; He not only gives
all, but is Himself all. In the knowledge and fellowship of Him
alone is its blessedness. Hence it came as a matter of course
that the revelation of prayer and the prayer-life was a part of
His teaching concerning the New Kingdom He came to set up. Moses
gave neither command nor regulation with regard to prayer: even
the prophets say little directly of the duty of prayer; it is
Christ who teaches to pray.

And the first thing the Lord teaches His disciples is that they
must have a secret place for prayer; every one must have some
solitary spot where he can be alone with his God. Every teacher
must have a schoolroom. We have learnt to know and accept Jesus
as our only teacher in the school of prayer. He has already
taught us at Samaria that worship is no longer confined to times
and places; that worship, spiritual true worship, is a thing of
the spirit and the life; the whole man must in his whole life be
worship in spirit and truth. And yet He wants each one to choose
for himself the fixed spot where He can daily meet him. That
inner chamber, that solitary place, is Jesus' schoolroom. That
spot may be anywhere; that spot may change from day to day if we
have to change our abode; but that secret place there must be,
with the quiet time in which the pupil places himself in the
Master's presence, to be by Him prepared to worship the Father.
There alone, but there most surely, Jesus comes to us to teach us
to pray.

A teacher is always anxious that his schoolroom should be bright
and attractive, filled with the light and air of heaven, a place
where pupils long to come, and love to stay. In His first words
on prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus seeks to set the
inner chamber before us in its most attractive light. If we
listen carefully, we soon notice what the chief thing is He has
to tell us of our tarrying there. Three times He uses the name of
Father: 'Pray to _thy Father_;' '_Thy Father_ shall recompense
thee;' _Your Father_ knoweth what things ye have need of.' The
first thing in closet-prayer is: I must meet my Father. The light
that shines in the closet must be: the light of the Father's
countenance. The fresh air from heaven with which Jesus would
have filled the atmosphere in which I am to breathe and pray, is:
God's Father-love, God's infinite Fatherliness. Thus each thought
or petition we breathe out will be simple, hearty, childlike
trust in the Father. This is how the Master teaches us to pray:
He brings us into the Father's living presence. What we pray
there must avail. Let us listen carefully to hear what the Lord
has to say to us.

First, '_Pray to thy Father which is in secret_.' God is a God
who hides Himself to the carnal eye. As long as in our worship of
God we are chiefly occupied with our own thoughts and exercises,
we shall not meet Him who is a Spirit, the unseen One. But to the
man who withdraws himself from all that is of the world and man,
and prepares to wait upon God alone, the Father will reveal
Himself. As he forsakes and gives up and shuts out the world, and
the life of the world, and surrenders himself to be led of Christ
into the secret of God's presence, the light of the Father's love
will rise upon him. The secrecy of the inner chamber and the
closed door, the entire separation from all around us, is an
image of, and so a help to, that inner spiritual sanctuary, the
secret of God's tabernacle, within the veil, where our spirit
truly comes into contact with the Invisible One. And so we are
taught, at the very outset of our search after the secret of
effectual prayer, to remember that it is in the inner chamber,
where we are alone with the Father, that we shall learn to pray
aright. The Father is in secret: in these words Jesus teaches us
where He is waiting us, where He is always to be found.
Christians often complain that private prayer is not what it
should be. They feel weak and sinful, the heart is cold and dark;
it is as if they have so little to pray, and in that little no
faith or joy. They are discouraged and kept from prayer by the
thought that they cannot come to the Father as they ought or as
they wish. Child of God! listen to your Teacher. He tells you
that when you go to private prayer your first thought must be:
The Father is in secret, the Father waits me there. Just because
your heart is cold and prayerless, get you into the presence of
the loving Father. As a father pitieth his children, so the Lord
pitieth you. Do not be thinking of how little you have to bring
God, but of how much He wants to give you. Just place yourself
before, and look up into, His face; think of His love, His
wonderful, tender, pitying love. Just tell Him how sinful and
cold and dark all is: it is the Father's loving heart will give
light and warmth to yours. O do what Jesus says: Just shut the
door, and pray to thy Father, which is in secret. Is it not
wonderful? to be able to go alone with God, the infinite God. And
then to look up and say: My Father!

'_And thy Father, which seeth in secret, will recompense thee._'
Here Jesus assures us that secret prayer cannot be fruitless: its
blessing will show itself in our life. We have but in secret,
alone with God, to entrust our life before men to Him; He will
reward us openly; He will see to it that the answer to prayer be
made manifest in His blessing upon us. Our Lord would thus teach
us that as infinite Fatherliness and Faithfulness is that with
which God meets us in secret, so on our part there should be the
childlike simplicity of faith, the confidence that our prayer
does bring down a blessing. 'He that cometh to God must believe
that _He is a rewarder_ of them that seek Him.' Not on the strong
or the fervent feeling with which I pray does the blessing of the
closet depend, but upon the love and the power of the Father to
whom I there entrust my needs. And therefore the Master has but
one desire: Remember your Father is, and sees and hears in
secret; go there and stay there, and go again from there in the
confidence: He will recompense. Trust Him for it; depend upon
Him: prayer to the Father cannot be vain; He will reward you

Still further to confirm this faith in the Father-love of God,
Christ speaks a third word: '_Your Father knoweth what things ye
have need of before ye ask Him._' At first sight it might appear
as if this thought made prayer less needful: God knows far better
than we what we need. But as we get a deeper insight into what
prayer really is, this truth will help much to strengthen our
faith. It will teach us that we do not need, as the heathen, with
the multitude and urgency of our words, to compel an unwilling
God to listen to us. It will lead to a holy thoughtfulness and
silence in prayer as it suggests the question: Does my Father
really know that I need this? It will, when once we have been led
by the Spirit to the certainty that our request is indeed
something that, according to the Word, we do need for God's
glory, give us wonderful confidence to say, My Father knows I
need it and must have it. And if there be any delay in the
answer, it will teach us in quiet perseverance to hold on:
FATHER! THOU KNOWEST I need it. O the blessed liberty and
simplicity of a child that Christ our Teacher would fain
cultivate in us, as we draw near to God: let us look up to the
Father until His Spirit works it in us. Let us sometimes in our
prayers, when we are in danger of being so occupied with our
fervent, urgent petitions, as to forget that the Father knows
and hears, let us hold still and just quietly say: My Father
sees, my Father hears, my Father knows; it will help our faith to
take the answer, and to say: We know that we have the petitions
we have asked of Him.

And now, all ye who have anew entered the school of Christ to be
taught to pray, take these lessons, practise them, and trust Him
to perfect you in them. Dwell much in the inner chamber, with the
door shut--shut in from men, shut up with God; it is there the
Father waits you, it is there Jesus will teach you to pray. To be
alone in secret with THE FATHER: this be your highest joy. To be
assured that THE FATHER will openly reward the secret prayer, so
that it cannot remain unblessed: this be your strength day by
day. And to know that THE FATHER knows that you need what you
ask, this be your liberty to bring every need, in the assurance
that your God will supply it according to His riches in glory in
Christ Jesus.


       *       *       *       *       *

Blessed Saviour! with my whole heart I do bless Thee for the
appointment of the inner chamber, as the school where Thou
meetest each of Thy pupils alone, and revealest to him the
Father. O my Lord! strengthen my faith so in the Father's tender
love and kindness, that as often as I feel sinful or troubled,
the first instinctive thought may be to go where I know the
Father waits me, and where prayer never can go unblessed. Let the
thought that He knows my need before I ask, bring me, in great
restfulness of faith, to trust that He will give what His child
requires. O let the place of secret prayer become to me the most
beloved spot on earth.

And, Lord! hear me as I pray that Thou wouldest everywhere bless
the closets of Thy believing people. Let Thy wonderful revelation
of a Father's tenderness free all young Christians from every
thought of secret prayer as a duty or a burden, and lead them to
regard it as the highest privilege of their life, a joy and a
blessing. Bring back all who are discouraged, because they cannot
find aught to bring Thee in prayer. O give them to understand
that they have only to come with their emptiness to Him who has
all to give, and delights to do it. Not, what they have to bring
the Father, but what the Father waits to give them, be their one

And bless especially the inner chamber of all Thy servants who
are working for Thee, as the place where God's truth and God's
grace is revealed to them, where they are daily anointed with
fresh oil, where their strength is renewed, and the blessings are
received in faith, with which they are to bless their fellow-men.
Lord, draw us all in the closet nearer to Thyself and the Father.




    'After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in
    heaven.'--MATT. vi. 9.

Every teacher knows the power of example. He not only tells the
child what to do and how to do it, but shows him how it really
can be done. In condescension to our weakness, our Heavenly
Teacher has given us the very words we are to take with us as we
draw near to our Father. We have in them a form of prayer in
which there breathe the freshness and fulness of the Eternal
Life. So simple that the child can lisp it, so divinely rich that
it comprehends all that God can give. A form of prayer that
becomes the model and inspiration for all other prayer, and yet
always draws us back to itself as the deepest utterance of our
souls before our God.

'_Our Father which art in heaven!_' To appreciate this word of
adoration aright, I must remember that none of the saints had in
Scripture ever ventured to address God as their Father. The
invocation places us at once in the centre of the wonderful
revelation the Son came to make of His Father as our Father too.
It comprehends the mystery of redemption--Christ delivering us
from the curse that we might become the children of God. The
mystery of regeneration--the Spirit in the new birth giving us
the new life. And the mystery of faith--ere yet the redemption is
accomplished or understood, the word is given on the lips of the
disciples to prepare them for the blessed experience still to
come. The words are the key to the whole prayer, to all prayer.
It takes time, it takes life to study them; it will take eternity
to understand them fully. The knowledge of God's Father-love is
the first and simplest, but also the last and highest lesson in
the school of prayer. It is in the personal relation to the
living God, and the personal conscious fellowship of love with
Himself, that prayer begins. It is in the knowledge of God's
Fatherliness, revealed by the Holy Spirit, that the power of
prayer will be found to root and grow. In the infinite tenderness
and pity and patience of the infinite Father, in His loving
readiness to hear and to help, the life of prayer has its joy. O
let us take time, until the Spirit has made these words to us
spirit and truth, filling heart and life: 'Our Father which art
in heaven.' Then we are indeed within the veil, in the secret
place of power where prayer always prevails.

'_Hallowed be Thy name._' There is something here that strikes us
at once. While we ordinarily first bring our own needs to God in
prayer, and then think of what belongs to God and His interests,
the Master reverses the order. First, _Thy_ name, _Thy_ kingdom,
_Thy_ will; then, give _us_, forgive _us_, lead _us_, deliver
_us_. The lesson is of more importance than we think. In true
worship the Father must be first, must be all. The sooner I learn
to forget myself in the desire that HE may be glorified, the
richer will the blessing be that prayer will bring to myself. No
one ever loses by what he sacrifices for the Father.

This must influence all our prayer. There are two sorts of
prayer: personal and intercessory. The latter ordinarily occupies
the lesser part of our time and energy. This may not be. Christ
has opened the school of prayer specially to train intercessors
for the great work of bringing down, by their faith and prayer,
the blessings of His work and love on the world around. There can
be no deep growth in prayer unless this be made our aim. The
little child may ask of the father only what it needs for itself;
and yet it soon learns to say, Give some for sister too. But the
grown-up son, who only lives for the father's interest and takes
charge of the father's business, asks more largely, and gets all
that is asked. And Jesus would train us to the blessed life of
consecration and service, in which our interests are all
subordinate to the Name, and the Kingdom, and the Will of the
Father. O let us live for this, and let, on each act of
adoration, Our Father! there follow in the same breath, _Thy_
Name, _Thy_ Kingdom, _Thy_ Will;--for this we look up and long.

'_Hallowed be Thy name._.' What name? This new name of Father.
The word _Holy_ is the central word of the Old Testament; the
_name_ Father of the New. In this name of Love all the holiness
and glory of God are now to be revealed. And how is the name to
be hallowed? By God Himself: '_I will hallow_ My great name which
ye have profaned.' Our prayer must be that in ourselves, in all
God's children, in presence of the world, God Himself would
reveal the holiness, the Divine power, the hidden glory of the
name of Father. The Spirit of the Father is the _Holy_ Spirit: it
is only when we yield ourselves to be led _of Him_, that the name
will be _hallowed_ in our prayer and our lives. Let us learn the
prayer: 'Our Father, hallowed be Thy name.'

'_Thy kingdom come._' The Father is a King and has a kingdom. The
son and heir of a king has no higher ambition than the glory of
his father's kingdom. In time of war or danger this becomes his
passion; he can think of nothing else. The children of the Father
are here in the enemy's territory, where the kingdom, which is
in heaven, is not yet fully manifested. What more natural than
that, when they learn to hallow the Father-name, they should long
and cry with deep enthusiasm: 'Thy kingdom come.' The coming of
the kingdom is the one great event on which the revelation of the
Father's glory, the blessedness of His children, the salvation of
the world depends. On our prayers too the coming of the kingdom
waits. Shall we not join in the deep longing cry of the redeemed:
'Thy kingdom come'? Let us learn it in the school of Jesus.

'_Thy will be done, as in heaven, so on earth._' This petition is
too frequently applied alone to the _suffering_ of the will of
God. In heaven God's will is _done_, and the Master teaches the
child to ask that the will may be done on earth just as in
heaven: in the spirit of adoring submission and ready obedience.
Because the will of God is the glory of heaven, the doing of it
is the blessedness of heaven. As the will is done, the kingdom of
heaven comes into the heart. And wherever faith has accepted the
Father's love, obedience accepts the Father's will. The surrender
to, and the prayer for a life of heaven-like obedience, is the
spirit of childlike prayer.

'_Give us this day our daily bread._' When first the child has
yielded himself to the Father in the care for His Name, His
Kingdom, and His Will, he has full liberty to ask for his daily
bread. A master cares for the food of his servant, a general of
his soldiers, a father of his child. And will not the Father in
heaven care for the child who has in prayer given himself up to
His interests? We may indeed in full confidence say: Father, I
live for Thy honor and Thy work; I know Thou carest for me.
Consecration to God and His will gives wonderful liberty in
prayer for temporal things: the whole earthly life is given to
the Father's loving care.

'_And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our
debtors._' As bread is the first need of the body, so forgiveness
for the soul. And the provision for the one is as sure as for the
other. We are children, but sinners too; our right of access to
the Father's presence we owe to the precious blood and the
forgiveness it has won for us. Let us beware of the prayer for
forgiveness becoming a formality: only what is really confessed
is really forgiven. Let us in faith accept the forgiveness as
promised: as a spiritual reality, an actual transaction between
God and us, it is the entrance into all the Father's love and all
the privileges of children. Such forgiveness, as a living
experience, is impossible without a forgiving spirit to others:
as _forgiven_ expresses the heavenward, so _forgiving_ the
earthward, relation of God's child. In each prayer to the Father
I must be able to say that I know of no one whom I do not
heartily love.

'_And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil
one._' Our daily bread, the pardon of our sins, and then our
being kept from all sin and the power of the evil one, in these
three petitions all our personal need is comprehended. The prayer
for bread and pardon must be accompanied by the surrender to live
in all things in holy obedience to the Father's will, and the
believing prayer in everything to be kept by the power of the
indwelling Spirit from the power of the evil one.

Children of God! it is thus Jesus would have us to pray to the
Father in heaven. O let His Name, and Kingdom, and Will, have the
first place in our love; His providing, and pardoning, and
keeping love will be our sure portion. So the prayer will lead us
up to the true child-life: the Father all to the child, the
Father all for the child. We shall understand how Father and
child, the _Thine_ and the _Our_, are all one, and how the heart
that begins its prayer with the God-devoted THINE, will have the
power in faith to speak out the OUR too. Such prayer will,
indeed, be the fellowship and interchange of love, always
bringing us back in trust and worship to Him who is not only the
AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER, AMEN.' Son of the Father, teach us to
pray, 'OUR FATHER.'


       *       *       *       *       *

O Thou who art the only-begotten Son, teach us, we beseech Thee,
to pray, 'OUR FATHER.' We thank Thee, Lord, for these Living
Blessed Words which Thou hast given us. We thank Thee for the
millions who in them have learnt to know and worship the Father,
and for what they have been to us. Lord! it is as if we needed
days and weeks in Thy school with each separate petition; so deep
and full are they. But we look to Thee to lead us deeper into
their meaning: do it, we pray Thee, for Thy Name's sake; Thy name
is Son of the Father.

Lord! Thou didst once say: 'No man knoweth the Father save the
Son, and he to whom the Son willeth to reveal Him.' And again: 'I
made known unto them Thy name, and will make it known, that the
love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in them.' Lord Jesus!
reveal to us the Father. Let His name, His infinite Father-love,
the love with which He loved Thee, according to Thy prayer, BE IN
US. Then shall we say aright, 'OUR FATHER!' Then shall we
apprehend Thy teaching, and the first spontaneous breathing of
our heart will be: 'Our Father, Thy Name, Thy Kingdom, Thy Will.'
And we shall bring our needs and our sins and our temptations to
Him in the confidence that the love of such a Father cares for

Blessed Lord! we are Thy scholars, we trust Thee; do teach us to
pray, 'OUR FATHER.' Amen.

       *       *       *       *       *

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