The devotional readings this month in Missions Mosaic are a walk through Baptist history. As a result, I’ve taken time to review some of the classics on the shelves at Kentucky WMU. Among those are a first edition copy of With Christ in the School of Prayer by Andrew Murray. Published in 1895, the teachings on prayer are as fresh today as when first penned by Murray, a South African pastor of Scottish descent who was born as a missionary kid in South Africa. Later educated in Scotland, Murray returned to South Africa where he was married and pastored churches. He was a champion of the South African Revival of 1860.
With Christ in the School of Prayer includes 31 lessons drawn from Jesus’ teachings on prayer. I share some quotes that have challenged me and encourage you to get a copy for personal study and reflection. While best read in a month, reading one lesson a day and truly studying and reflecting on the lesson, you may find yourself reading as I have, not being able to stop.
Lesson 1 – Lord, teach us to pray. “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.”
Lesson 2: In Spirit and in 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 truth.”
Lesson 3 – Pray to thy Father, Which is in Secret. “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.”
And so the lessons go, each one examining a teaching of Jesus on prayer, followed by a prayer to learn this lesson and apply it. Because the work is now public domain, it is available in Christian bookstores as well as on line. An on line version may be found at: http://www.jesus.org.uk/vault/library/murray_with_christ_in_the_school_of_prayer.pdf.
I was talking with Pat Reaves, former Kentucky WMU president, about With Christ in the School of Prayer. She is in a group that is studying The Ministry of Intercession, also by Andrew Murray. Her reaction was the same as mine – this could have been written last week, and yet it was written over 100 years ago.
Rediscover these classics on prayer. You will concur with Andrew Murray in his introduction to With Christ in the School of Prayer that “It is under a deep impression that the place and power of prayer in the Christian life is too little understood, that this book has been written. I feel sure that as long as we look on prayer chiefly as the means of maintaining our own Christian life, we shall not know fully what it is meant to be. But when we learn to regard it as the highest part of the work entrusted to us, the root and strength of all other work, we shall see that there is nothing that we so need to study and practise as the art of praying aright. If teaching of our Lord in regard to prayer, and the distinct reference the wonderful promises of the last night (John xiv. 16) have to the works we are to do in His Name, to the greater works, and to the bearing much fruit, we shall all admit that it is only when the Church gives herself up to this holy work of intercession that we can expect the power of Christ to manifest itself in her behalf. It is my prayer that God may use this little book to make clearer to some of His children the wonderful place of power and influence which He is waiting for them to occupy, and for which a weary world is waiting too.”