“LORD, TEACH US TO PRAY”
T. PIERCE BROWN
Although Luke 11:1 does NOT say, “Lord, teach us HOW to pray,” as it is often quoted, we need to be taught TO pray, and HOW to pray. This article is written to help us in both respects.
If many of the public prayers I hear are any indication of the kind of private prayers we have, I would suggest that our private prayers are often too perfunctory, lacking depth, and are not always related to things that REALLY make much difference. Although Jesus prayed all night (Luke6:12), He did not just mutter words and utter vain phrases for that time. A long prayer is not necessarily any better or worse than a short one. Either needs to have certain qualities to make them effective. We could name earnestness, humility, reverence, faith, submissiveness, etc., but that is not the thrust of this article. I want to share with you a suggestion that may add dimension and value to your prayers.
When you read the Bible, take a chapter and phrase a prayer with reference to what is in that chapter. This will help you to be more thoughtful about the things for which you are thankful, deepen your appreciation for and perception of the Word of God, and relate your prayers more specifically to the will of God.
For example, if you were reading from 2 Thessalonians 3, your prayer might begin something like this, “Father, I thank thee for thy Word, which still a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our pathway. May it spread rapidly and be honored. But help me to realize that it is useless to pray for its rapid spread unless I am personally involved in the answer to that prayer. Help me, therefore, to be more effective in spreading the Word in my own locality, and more eager to assist those in more difficult places to do likewise.” Some of us may need to pray more earnestly with regard to the thoughts of the second verse. Read it and see! In almost every verse, there are thoughts that relate to your needs and desires for the day about which you can pray and gain strength and depth of devotion, for they are directly related to what God has said.
Although I have never written out a prayer and read it in public, as I have seen some brethren do, if Bacon was right about reading, conference and writing, there may be some value in our reading a chapter, then writing down what we think we would like to say to God with reference to what He has said to us. I am not sure if this practice helps my public prayers, for I am not conscious of how I pray in public, and never remember hearing myself on tape. But I feel sure it has added some depth, meaning, content and power to my private prayers.
Try this with any chapter you are reading: When you come to a verse that suggests a thought for which you are grateful, pause there and thank God for that reality, then express a desire to use that blessing for God’s glory. For example, if you read John3:16, you might say, “Father, for the infinite love manifested in the giving of Thy Son, I am more grateful than I can find words to express. Help me, O God, to strive to express that gratitude by sharing that good news with others. Forgive me for saying things like this and not acting upon them. In Christ’s name. Amen.”