Greetings MOL Family!
Although only on lesson 1 of our new series, we pray that you all are being blessed by the principles shared! Please don’t forget to share these blessings with others, and also let us know (below) what stands out to you?
Lord, Teach Us To Pray
Sometime prior to Gethsemane, Peter had been with the other disciples when they were hunting for Jesus (Who had drawn Himself away to seek God). And they came across Him in a secret place out in the woods, praying. You remember that as Luke tells the story in Luke11, the disciples hearing Him pray were so charmed, so impressed, that at the close of His prayer they said:
Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. – Luke 11:1
Now these men were ordained ministers at this time. They’d had mighty power to work miracles. But they sensed the fact as they heard the Master pray, that they knew very little about it. They still knew little about it at the time in Gethsemane.
And so, there is every reason for you and me to consider the fact that maybe there are some things we need to learn about prayer. And that if we will learn them, we can avoid Peter’s fall; Peter’s mistake.
Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation. – Matthew 26:41
I’d like to share with you a few thoughts, very simple, very practical. You may think them so simple that they hardly need notice. But in my experience in counseling with many people in many places, I find that some of these things are either unknown or, if known, unused. Here’s one of them:
Learn to pray aloud where only God can hear you. – Our High Calling, pg. 130
Many times when I’m talking with somebody that’s having a spiritual problem, I say to them, “Do you pray?” “Yes.” “Do you have times to pray all alone with God?” “Yes.” Then I will say to them, “When you’re all alone with God and you pray, do you pray out loud? Do you move your lips and actually say words to God? Or do you merely think your prayers?” And many times they will say, “Well, I think them.”
Now, I will not say there’s anything wrong with that. But I will say that if that’s all we do, friends, there are some things about prayer we’ll never learn. It’s perfectly proper for us to think our prayers when we’re in the midst of a business engagement, when we’re sitting at the table surrounded with a group of people. And in the affairs of life as we go about, it’s a good thing for us to be thinking prayers to Jesus from time to time all day long, isn’t it?
But, friends, when we get down on our knees for prayer with God in the early morning, and at night before we go to bed, and at other times as God may arrange, we need to learn to open our mouths, use our lips, our vocal cords, and talk to God. My authority is the sentence we’ve just read. See if you can make anything else out of it:
Learn to pray aloud where only God can hear you. – Ibid
“Well,” somebody might say, “Why pray aloud when God is the only person Who can hear?” Now, we all pray aloud in family worship and prayer meeting. If we’re asked to return thanks at the table, we don’t just think a prayer, do we? We understand, of course, other people are listening. But when I get all alone with God, why should I speak out loud? Can’t God read my mind? Certainly, He can. He can go further than that. He knows all I need even before I ever think about it, doesn’t He? What is the purpose of prayer, then? Is it to inform God? No.
The purpose of prayer is to commune with God over certain matters, in a way that makes us conscious of the fact that we and God are thinking about the same thing, and planning about the same thing, and that we’re getting God’s mind on this matter.
Therefore, everything that we can do that will make us more conscious of the fact that we are talking with God, that we need to do. This is the reason that we get down on our knees. “Can’t God hear us if we’re standing up or sitting down?” Certainly, He can. And as we walk along the way, we’re told that we can commune with God.
There’s nothing wrong about praying to God as we walk, sit, stand. But on the other hand, friends, the special blessing of special prayer seasons includes getting down on our knees. But why, I ask again. Because in that posture, in that position, we are more conscious of the fact that we are having an audience with the King of kings. Do you see?
Now, God knows whether we’re really reverent or not. Getting down on our knees, if we don’t really love Him and reverence Him, could be an act of hypocrisy. But when we kneel in prayer, because we’re conscious of the fact that we’re talking to God, it increases the sense of the presence of God. And we need all the help we can get in that.
In the same way, just as kneeling helps us to sense that we’re having a special audience with God, talking to Him out loud does the same thing. We’re not merely thinking, meditating. We’re communing with God. Another very practical point: Have you ever noticed that if you merely think your prayers, you hardly know when you begin or when you end? In fact, there is danger when we are just thinking our prayers that, without knowing it, our mind has wandered off onto some business matter, some family matter, some personal matter. We begin to think about what we have to do and this and that. And we catch ourselves and come back.
Now, somebody may say, “Well, wouldn’t that happen if I prayed out loud?” Yes, it will. I’ll be honest with you, it will. But the difference is this: you will soon be aware of it, because you will have quit speaking. And when you’re speaking out loud and your mind trails off in some other direction, pretty soon you’ll catch yourself, and your mind is way off somewhere, but you can bring it back and start talking to God again. Do you see what I mean? This is very important. So, let us read this sentence again:
Learn to pray aloud where only God can hear you. Do not offer make believe prayers, but earnest, feeling petitions, expressing the hunger of the soul for the Bread of life. If we prayed more in secret, we should be able to pray more intelligently in public. – Ibid
Honestly, friends, when I hear some prayers in public; you want me to be frank? I think about a tape recorder. Certain expressions used over and over again. I could mention what some of them are. It might offend somebody. But this says that if we will pray more in secret, our prayers in public will be more intelligent.
What would you think if some friend came to visit you to ask for a favor, but he went through a certain form of words. And every time he came he went through that same form of words, sentence after sentence? Not on very close terms.
“Learn to pray aloud where only God can hear you.” – Ibid
Now notice, it doesn’t say learn to pray loud where only God can hear you. We don’t have to shout. We don’t have to pray so loud that the neighbors can hear us. This says:
“Learn to pray aloud where only God can hear you.” – Ibid
And if you have somebody in the next room, you’ll have to pray in a low tone so that only God hears you, right? And let me deal with another very practical problem. Some of us have roommates at one time or another. When we’re in school, we usually have a roommate. Married folks have a roommate. Under other circumstances we may have a roommate.
I got a great lesson on this. Many years ago, I was attending a ministerial institute, and the man who led the devotional at the very first early morning meeting said: “Now, brethren, we’re together from near and far. We’re in our rooms, and most of us have someone rooming with us. I want to share with you a blessing that an older minister taught me years ago. He said, ‘He and I were put together at a convention to room together. This man said to me, “Now brother, we are going to be sharing this room for several days. I would like to have an understanding between you and me that we can do in this room whatever we would do if we were alone. I’d like to have an understanding that I can kneel down and pray in my corner of the room anytime without feeling embarrassed or without embarrassing you.’” I appreciated that very much. I recommend it to all of you. It would’ve been too bad if we’d gone through that convention without personal prayer. It would’ve been too bad if being together, as we were thrown together in those rooms, would hinder that in any way, right at the time when we were seeking the Lord in those meetings.
Well, I’ve never forgotten that lesson. And my dear friends, I tell you this. Anything that is important as prayer, we must be so anxious about that we’re going to find some way to get to do it.
Finding A Way
I remember reading of J. Hudson Taylor, the man that God used to open up missions in China years ago. He was very jealous of this early morning appointment with God. He said that on one occasion he was on the Yangtze River, that great stream that drains thousands of square miles of China, and for days, day and night, he was simply on one of these Chinese boats surrounded by a bunch of sweating persons. Where could he pray? When could he pray?
He watched his opportunity and he found that his only opportunity was around three or four or five in the morning, when most of them were asleep. And there, floating on that river, surrounded by those sleeping persons, he knelt and talked to God. Oh friends, there’s a way.
Now another practical thing. You may at times be in a situation where the only way you can talk to God and still do what this says – where only God can hear you – is to whisper to God.
Oh, my friends, when other people around you are so close, when your roommate is right there and yet it’s time for you to pray, you can whisper to God. But oh, whispering is so much different from just kneeling there, thinking… We’re trying to learn what Peter failed to learn before Gethsemane. Thank the Lord, he learned it afterward!
And we praise the Lord that we can learn these lessons now!!!
Join us next week, as we look at Lesson 2 –“Put Up The Sword”… Invite a friend, and we’ll see you then.
Did you know that we have more online classes available (and posted daily)?
- Country Living
- Courtship & Marriage
- The Christian Home
- Child Guidance
- Army of Youth
- The School of Health
- Other Present Truth Studies
* This study has been adapted from classes taken by Elder W.D. Frazee.