Saturday, February 16, 2008

Back to School... Part 1

I've been reading lately again Andrew Murray's wonderful book With Christ in the School of Prayer, and am reminded again of the simplicity and power of our Lord's teaching... and that His teaching is so simple that even a child can understand it, and yet it possesses a depth which takes His disciples deeper and deeper in its meaning each time they hear His words. Murray reminds me of this with his brilliant devotional exposition of the Lord's Prayer in his Fourth Lesson in the book. (By the way, if you haven't read this, you really ought to do so... it's one of the few books about prayer which not only inspires me to think and talk about prayer, but to actually pray!)

One of the great tragedies of today's evangelical movement is the sad lack of personal and corporate prayer. You know the old saying:

"Much prayer, much power... little prayer, little power... no prayer, no power."

This is a great summary of a core problem with a self-sufficient culture (even an evangelical sub-culture), and a reason for the selfish focus of many who name the name of Christ in these days. And what a tragedy it is to claim to follow Christ, but at such a distance that we miss His will and purpose by failing in this fundamental privilege of actual communion and fellowship with the Father. I want to share over the next few days just this one lesson... by the way, have you considered recently what an unbelievable privilege it is to have the direct, specific teaching from Jesus on this subject? How incredibly important it must be for us to understand - and to follow in practice.

Today, I'm going to let Murray speak for himself without any further distraction from me. Perhaps you will renewed encouragement, and may God grant to each of us the reality of His presence in prayer.

"‘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. "

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