Matthew 6:7 - (Jesus said) "And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words."
Besides being neglected, the privilege of communing with God is sometimes misunderstood even by those who should know it best. We ask, "Lord, teach us to pray!" because too often people plead in the wrong way. First of all, they do not address the only true God. They ignore Christ and pass by the blessed Trinity. Many a public prayer could be uttered by a pagan or pantheist, and if our requests are not addressed to the One who alone can answer—how can we expect Him to hear?
Many entreaties are spoken in unbelief, without the slightest evidence of personal faith in Christ's atoning merits, just as though Jesus never lived, nor died on the cross to save sinners. Sometimes we nurture hatred in our hearts; or, we have no thanks for our Heavenly father, no love for our fellow men, only self-centered, stingy requests.
We need prayer instruction because too frequently, we voice our desires only once and then, when the answer does not follow immediately, turn away from God in protest. I read recently of a woman who telephoned the manager of a concert hall inquiring whether a valuable diamond pendant lost there on the previous night's entertainment had been found. He asked her to hold the line, personally went to the designated seat, located the pendant, returned to the phone, only to learn the woman had hung up and he had no way of reaching her. Evidently, she was tired of waiting and therefore lost her costly jewelry. You see the parallel in many lives when God does not readily reply to their request, they impatiently break off their prayers.
"Lord, teach us to pray," we repeat, when we think of the superstitious attitude which regards prayer, almost as a magic button for help. It's a delusion which likes to multiply petitions and concludes that the very act of pleading in itself is a good and meritorious deed that can earn God's pardon and peace. But be clear on this: prayer in itself cannot save you! Nothing you can do or say can rescue you from your sin. There is only one assurance for deliverance: faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, your Redeemer from sin, hell, and death.
Because faith, supported by prayer, can give every one of us the strength, wisdom, and help we need for war and peace, sorrow and happiness, earth and heaven, may we all today, bow before our God and Savior to repeat the disciples plea, "Lord, teach us to pray!" As we appeal—not arrogantly or boastfully, but humbly, penitently, in the Name of the Lord Jesus, God's unbreakable Word assures us, "If My people, which are called by My Name, shall humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, and forgive their sin and heal their land" (2 Chronicles 7:14).
THE PRAYER: Oh Jesus, teach us to pray with confidence in this blessed truth! Amen.
From "Lord, Teach America to Pray," a sermon excerpt from Dr. Walter Maier, the first Speaker of The Lutheran Hour
To Download Devotion MP3 to your computer, right click here and select "Save Link As" or "Save Target As" or "Download Linked File As"