And it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, that when He ceased, one of His disciples said to Him, Lord, teach us to pray.” LUKE 11:1

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 the years after, 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 the disciples who see Him in prayer, 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 ever more precious. And the hope of being like Christ in His intercession, gains an attractiveness that was hitherto unknown. And as we see Him pray, and we remember that there are none who can pray like Him, and none who can teach like Him, we can feel the urgent request of the disciples, Lord, teach us to pray.” And it’s just what we need. As we think about all that He is and all that He has, and how He belongs to us, and how He is our life; we feel assured that we have but to only ask, and He will be delighted to bring us into a closer fellowship with Himself. He will teach us to pray just as He prays.

Come, my brothers! Shall we not go to the Blessed Master, and ask Him to permanently enroll our names 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.” And 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 youngest of children can even pray, yet it is at the same time, the highest and holiest work to which man can rise. It is fellowship with the Invisible 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 and for the world. It is through prayer that God has given the right to take hold of Him and His strength. It is through prayer that the promises of God await their fulfillment, that the kingdom awaits its coming, and that the glory of God awaits their full revelation. And for this blessed work, how lazy and unfit we are. It is only the Spirit of God that can enable us to do it correctly. How quickly we are deceived into complacency, while God’s power is available to us. 

Our early training, the teaching of the Church, the influence of habit, the stirring of our emotions — how easily these lead to prayer which has no Spiritual power, and achieves little. True prayer, that takes hold of God’s strength, and that availeth much, to which the gates of heaven are really opened wide”— who would not cry, Oh, for someone to teach me to pray like that?”

Jesus has opened a school, in which He trains His redeemed ones, those who especially desire it, to have power in prayer. Shall we not enter it with the petition, Lord! This is just what we need to be taught!” Oh Lord, 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 old used to pray with. 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 will God not now, in these days of fulfillment, give His people this sure sign of His presence in their midst? We have heard the promises given to His apostles of the power of prayer in His name, and we have seen how gloriously they experienced their truth: we therefore know for certain.

They can become true for us too. We hear continually even in these days what glorious tokens of Your power You still give to those who trust in You fully. Lord! These are men of similar passions and desires as ourselves; teach us to pray so too. The promises are for us, and the powers and gifts of the heavenly world are for us. Oh, teach us to pray so that we may receive abundantly. To us also, You have entrusted Your work. In our prayers also, the coming of the kingdom depends. In our prayers also, You can glorify Your name. Lord, teach us to pray.” Yes. Us, Lord. We offer ourselves as learners; we would indeed be taught of You. Lord, teach us to pray.”

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, there is none that is more difficult. And the confession is then forced from us: We know not 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 do not always know how to apply the Word. In spiritual things, we do not always seek the most needful things, or we fail in praying according to the law of the sanctuary. In worldly things, we are still not able to fully 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; and so 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.

And 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 learned. 

Because even when we do not remember it, there is the One; the Beginner and Finisher of faith and prayer, who watches over our praying, and makes sure that all who trust in Him for their education in the school of prayer, shall be carried on to perfection. And may the deep undertone of all our prayers be that we are teachable, and that comes from both a sense of ignorance, and a from faith in Him as a perfect Teacher. We may be sure that we will be taught, and that we will learn to pray in power. Yes, we may depend upon it, because HE teaches us to pray. Lord, teach us to pray.”

From With Christ in the School of Prayer, by Andrew Murray. 1885. Text is in the public domain.

Artwork by Alexandre Bida. Taken from The Gospel Life of Jesus: With the Bida Illustrations. New York: Fords, Howard, & Hulbert, 1874.

Text First Published January 1885 · Last Featured on April 2023