(Delivered on August 1, 1943 at Centerline Baptist Church)
Lord Teach Us To Pray
Luke 11:1 - 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, as John also taught his disciples.
INTRODUCTION:“And it came to pass, that as He was praying…” More blessings have resulted from the bended knee in prayer than anything else in the world. It is when on the knees in prayer that God often speaks to us and reveals our short-comings and faults. It was while the disciples were on their knees and Christ was praying that it was revealed to them the short-comings of their prayer life. It must have been a touching prayer, for it certainly stirred the emotions of the disciples. They realized for the first time how barren and dry their prayer life had been. I’m afraid that prayer today is anything but a reality to many Christians. Oh, it is true that they pray before they go to bed and offer a word of thanks before each meal, but there is absolutely no power in their prayers. Have you not felt sometimes as though you were merely going through a formality and that you might as well have forgotten it for all the good it has done you? Yes, I’m afraid there are not many today who know the real meaning of prevailing prayer. Notice that the disciples did not ask the Lord to teach them to preach, or teach, or sing, but PRAY. More has been accomplished by prayer than ever has been or will be by preaching, for even the greatest preaching is in vain for it becomes powerless and empty. I do not believe there is one of us here this morning who does not need to be taught to pray. Not the mere formality, but the power of prevailing prayer.
I. THE PRIVILEGE OF PRAYER
Prayer is everybody’s privilege and gift. There is not a child of God upon the earth who does not have this holy privilege of prayer. While it often takes preparation and training to become preachers or missionaries and a definite call to service; not so with prayer. It is a gift to every child of God. Jesus says, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.” No call is needed to pray. No limitations are set upon prayer. Yet in spite of the fact that prayer is an avenue of power open to all, there are very few Christians who use it. God needs more prayers than preachers. The sad need of our churches today is men and women who will wrap themselves up in prayer. The carnality, worldliness, loss of power, and indifference in the church can all be traced to a lack of prayer. The power of the early church was in prayer. (Acts 1:14; 2:42-47; 3:1; 4:31)
II. THE POWER OF PRAYER
Prayer is a power that knows no bounds and fears no obstacles. Prayer will open the Red Seas, prayer will remove mountains. Prayer unleashes all the OMNIPOTENT power of God. By prayer I can visit the missionaries of China, Africa, or South America in a moments time. Loved ones may be in great trouble and they could never be reached in time, but by prayer you can reach them instantly. How little I can do, how little I can give, but by prayer I can reach all men everywhere. Dr. DeHann tells the story of going to call on a dear old lady who was 80 years old. He rapped on the door and she did not answer and he feared that something might have happened to her. But finally she came and apologized for being so slow by saying, “You see, when you rapped I happened to be in China, and I wanted to finish my business there first.” He began to look at her to see if she was out of her mind but she said, “You see my son, every morning I take a trip around the world and visit the Christians in Asia and Europe, the missionaries in China and Japan.” I visit them all and meet them at the mercy seat.” Yes beloved, prayer is real and powerful. The real secret of power in prayer is relationship. We are not dealing with the creator God, but with our Father. Matt. 6:25-34 and 7:7-11.
III. THE PITFALLS OF PRAYER
As we look at our own prayer life I believe we all feel the need of instruction. Let us look at the Lord’s teaching on this subject. (Matt. 6:5) The first thing wrong with the hypocrites prayer is that it is Public. Secondly it is LONG. (Matt. 23:14) Any child of God who has been all prayed up in private will get his public prayer over with in a hurry. Jesus was a great man of prayer, but most of his prayer was in private. On the mountain, in the garden. The model prayer of our Lord can be prayed reverently in 30 seconds. His next longest prayer is that of John 17, and it can be prayed in 2 ½ minutes. The next thing Christ teaches about prayer is that it should be PRIVATE. (Matt. 6:6) The world does not care to hear you pray to them. You are commanded to preach, not pray, to them. I’ve heard a minister pray for 15 minutes on a ½ hour radio broadcast. I remember in school Dr. Houghton gave some very good pointers on public prayer.
1. You do not exhort in prayer
2. It is not a statement of doctrine
3. Not convicting the hearers
4. Not the means of providing a point
The next thing that Christ points out about prayer is that it is not to have VAIN REPETITION. (Matt. 6:7) How we need to emphasize this… a good many prayers are filled with “Father”, “Holy Father”, “Jesus”, etc. When you speak to your earthly father do you always keep repeating his name? Of course not. Then why do it to God? Again, let me bring some of the points which Dr. Houghton gave us. Prayer is talking to God as the mouthpiece of the assembly and there are 5 faults:
1. The repetition of Devine names.
2. Familiarity of address. We are approaching God and we are not His equal. Don’t use “Dear God” etc.
3. The repetitions of stock phrases. Such as the interjection “O”!
4. Indefiniteness in prayer.
5. Feebleness of voice.
Also, avoid ORATORY. Forget yourself and get alone with God. Get a prayer vocabulary. Read the Psalms. Practice in prayer.
Study your prayer life and compare them with Christ’s and Paul’s. Determine that above all things you are going to be a Great Person Of Prayer!