With Christ in the School of Prayer

by Andrew Murray

Probably every honest Christian will admit to some deficiency in prayer. Some may spend inadequate time in prayer, others may pray too selfishly to receive an answer and still others may pray mechanically, without faith and without fellowship with God. Whatever your particular area of need, you will probably find it addressed in the beloved classic With Christ in the School of Prayer. Like many of Andrew Murray’s books, this volume contains thirty-one chapters, one for each day of a month of study. This book treats prayer as a lifelong learning experience, the school of prayer, where the Teacher is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Most of the chapters begin with a Scripture containing some teaching of Christ on the subject of prayer, and the rest of the chapter simply expands on the words of Jesus.

An early chapter explains how our prayer can be effective only when we live in the attitude of a dependent child.

The prayer of a child owes its influence entirely to the relation in which he stands to the parent. The prayer can exert that influence only when the child is really living in that relationship and in the home, in the love, and in the service of the Father. The power of the promise, “Ask, and it shall be given you,” lies in the loving relationship between us as children and the Father in heaven. When we live and walk in that relationship, the prayer of faith and its answer will be the natural result. And so the lesson we have today in the school of prayer is this: Live as a child of God and you will be able to pray and most assuredly be heard as a child…. He that gives himself to be led by the Spirit in his life will be led by Him in his prayers, too. And he will find that Fatherlike giving is the Divine response to childlike living.

The chief lesson the Lord has for us in His school centers on the name of Father. We must learn to say, “Abba, Father!” and “Our Father which art in heaven.” Whoever can say this has the key to all prayer. The Father listens in all the compassion with which a father listens to a weak or sickly child, in all the joy with which he hears a stammering child, in all the gentle patience with which he tolerates a thoughtless child. We must meditate upon the heart of our Father until our every prayer goes upward on the faith of this Divine word: “How much more shall your heavenly Father give good gifts to them that ask Him.”

Another chapter looks at the marvelous promise contained in the words of Jesus in Luke 11:13: “If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children; how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?”

It is impossible to conceive of God bestowing any higher gift on His child than His own Spirit. God is what He is through His Spirit; the Spirit is the very life of God. Just think what it means for God to give His own Spirit to His child on earth…. The one necessary element in the spiritual life is the Holy Spirit. All the fullness is in Jesus. His is the fullness of grace and truth from which we receive grace for grace. The Holy Spirit is the appointed intermediary whose special work is to convey Jesus and everything there is in Him to us. He is the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus. If we yield ourselves entirely to the will of the Spirit and let Him have His way with us, He will manifest the life of Christ within us.

Another amazing promise of Jesus is considered in the chapter “The Faith that Takes”: “All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believe that ye have received them, and ye shall have them.”

The tendency of human reason is to intervene here with certain qualifiers, such as “if expedient,” “if according to God’s will,” to break the force of a statement which appears dangerous. Beware of dealing this way with the Master’s words. His promise is most literally true. He wants His frequently repeated “all things” to enter our hearts and reveal how mighty the power of faith is. The Head truly calls the members of the Body to share His power with Him. Our Father places His power at the disposal of the child who completely trusts Him. Faith gets its food and strength from the “all things” of Christ’s promise. As we weaken it, we weaken faith.

This book also considers the need for fasting to accompany prayer:
…Prayer needs fasting for its full growth. Prayer is the one hand with which we grasp the invisible. Fasting is the other hand, the one with which we let go of the visible. In nothing is man more closely connected with the world of sense than in his need for, and enjoyment of, food… It was with bread that Jesus was tempted in the wilderness. But He triumphed in fasting… Disciples of Jesus! You have asked the Master to teach you to pray, so come now and accept His lessons! Isn’t the prize worth the price? Give up everything to follow Jesus in the path He opens to us! Fast if you need to! Do anything you must so that neither the body nor the world can hinder us in our great life-work—talking to God in prayer, so that we may become men of faith whom He can use in His work of saving the world.

“The Power of Persevering Prayer” is a chapter that deals with the mystery of needing to persevere in prayer until an answer is received, even though God has eternally known both the need and the answer.

Of all the mysteries of the prayer world, the need for persevering prayer is one of the greatest. We cannot easily understand why the Lord, Who is so loving and longing to bless us, should have to be petitioned time after time, sometimes year after year, before the answer comes. It is also one of the greatest practical difficulties in the exercise of believing prayer. When our repeated prayers remain unanswered, it is easy for our lazy flesh—maintaining the appearance of pious submission—to think that we must stop praying because God may have a secret reason for withholding His answer to our request. Faith alone can overcome difficulty. Once faith has taken its stand on God’s Word and the Name of Jesus, and has yielded itself to the leading of the Spirit to seek only God’s will and honor in its prayer, it need not be discouraged by delay… Just as each of ten thousand seeds is a part of the final harvest, frequently repeated, persevering prayer is necessary to acquire a desired blessing… Of course the husbandman longs for his harvest. But he knows it must have its full term of sunshine and rain, so he has plenty of patience. A child so often wants to pick the half-ripe fruit, while the farmer knows to wait until the proper time.

Another chapter faces more of the puzzling questions about prayer:

How extensive is the power of prayer? How can God grant to prayer such mighty power? How can prayer be harmonized with the will of God? How can God’s sovereignty and our will—God’s liberty and ours—be reconciled? The prayers of the Son and His people weren’t included in the eternal decrees simply for show. Rather, the Father listens with His heart to every prayer that rises through the Son. God really does allow Himself to be moved by prayer to do what He otherwise would not have done. This perfect, harmonious union of Divine sovereignty and human liberty is an unfathomable mystery because God as the Eternal One transcends all our thoughts. But let it be our comfort and strength to know that in the eternal fellowship of the Father and the Son, the power of prayer has its origin and certainty. Through our union with the Son, our prayer is taken up and can have its influence in the inner life of the Blessed Trinity.

Many other important aspects of prayer are covered in other chapters, and I believe every honest Christian will find opportunities for life-long growth in prayer. You will appreciate that the example of Jesus Christ’s life of prayer is the inspiration for this book, and your life can only be blessed as you accept the invitation to enroll With Christ in the School of Prayer.

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