“Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1)
By David Brandt Berg
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To cry out to the Lord in prayer is something that should come naturally to every truly born-again child of God. God expects each of His children, those who really know Him, to touch Him personally and make direct contact with Him, not just through somebody else’s prayers or faith. Therefore each of us must learn to individually make personal, intimate contact with the Lord through prayer, the heavenly link, the divine telephone between us and heaven.
Even though our “heavenly Father knoweth what things we have need of before we ask Him,”1 He likes us to confess that we alone can’t solve all our problems and that we need His help. He likes us to be humble and willing to pray, to acknowledge His power and show our faith in Him by asking Him for help. Then, of course, He likes to answer, not only to remind us that we need Him, but also because He likes us to appreciate His help and to love Him for it—like a father.
The Lord loves to give us answers to our problems and questions and troubles, and He wants us to ask Him for His guidance. He says, “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.”2
He even goes on to say, “For what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask Him?”3
So don’t ever think you have to try to figure out all your problems and decisions yourself. Get down in prayer and get God’s answers. He says, “Call unto Me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things which thou knowest not.”4
“Without Him, you can do nothing,”5 but with Him, you can “do all things through Christ which strengtheneth you.”6 So when you really need help, tell it to Jesus. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and He shall sustain thee. Cast all your cares upon Him, for He careth for you.”7 Jesus said, “My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” But there’s one condition to it—“come unto Me.”8 When you come to the Lord in prayer and faith, and ask Him for the answers, you’ll get them.
This is what prayer is all about. It is not merely some kind of religious ritual, but a living relationship. As that dear hymn says:
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear.
What a privilege to carry,
Everything to God in prayer.
Oh, what peace we often forfeit.
Oh, what needless pain we bear.
All because we do not carry,
Everything to God in prayer.
—Joseph M. Scriven (1820–1886)
The Lord’s shoulders are broad enough to carry any load—all the burdens put together, including His own.
Hearing from heaven
With many people, prayer is a one-way conversation, and they do all the talking. They pray, “Hear, Lord, Thy servant speaketh,” instead of like Samuel, the child prophet, who at five years of age said, “Speak, Lord, Thy servant heareth.”9
Prayer is not just getting down on your knees and speaking your piece, but letting God speak His, too. This is why each of us is supposed to know the Lord personally and be filled with the Holy Spirit and therefore be led by the Spirit individually, so that we can personally seek the Lord and find the answers for ourselves that we need for our own individual cases.
Each of us needs to learn to follow God and to hear from Him fresh every day. You can’t just get inspired once and let that do for the rest of your life. We all need to hear from God. It doesn’t have to be out loud; it doesn’t have to be with an audible voice. It can just be in that “still small voice”10 that you feel inside of you—sometimes not even words, just an impression that you have. God doesn’t have to communicate in words; He can just give you a feeling or a picture or an idea.
His Spirit is like a broadcasting station, broadcasting all the time; you just have to learn how to tune in. If you’ve got an open channel and tune in, the Lord will fill you—your mind, your heart, your ears, your eyes. Jesus can speak anytime, anywhere, if you believe. And that thing you see or hear with the eyes or ears of your spirit will come from the Lord—and it will be such a comfort to you.
If you’re always hurrying and rushing around, fretting and impatient, you’ll never be able to focus your full attention—your eyes, your ears, your mind, your heart—on the Lord for the solutions to the problems, the answers to the questions, the best decisions for the situations.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God. In quietness and confidence shall your strength be.”11 You’re going to have to get quiet by yourself—somewhere, somehow, sometime—if you’re going to hear from the Lord.
Every great man of God, from Moses to Jesus, had to retreat alone to his mountain for a while in order to have time to meditate, pray, and commune with God. Jesus had to get up at the break of day before His disciples got up and walk out across the hills or up in the mountain to get alone with God and get His orders for the day from His Father.12
If you neglect your fellowship with the King of kings because you’re so busy with the affairs of the kingdom, it can be disastrous to your spiritual life and communion with the Lord. You cannot do the Master’s work without the Master’s power and guidance. And to get it, you must spend time with the Master.
He’ll solve a lot of your problems before the day even starts if you listen to what He has to say. But if you go plunging into all your troubles and your work without stopping to talk to the Lord and get directions from your Commander in Chief, then you’re going to be like a soldier who’s trying to fight the war all on his own without listening to headquarters, with no guidance from the top.
We all need more quiet time with the Lord in rest and refilling, drinking of the living water of His Word and fellowshipping with Him in the communion of prayer. It totally renews you and completely refreshes you and gives you new vision and fresh inspiration, new strength, rest and peace and joy. For “they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”13
“In all thy ways acknowledge Him”
Jesus told us that we should always pray. He said, “Men ought always to pray and not to faint.”14 He also says, “Watch and pray,”15 and Paul says “Pray without ceasing.”16 Prayer is one way the Lord has of keeping us close to Him and in His presence continually, constantly dependent upon Him.
Prayer is like breathing—just breathing the Holy Spirit all the time, being in constant communication with the Lord.
He says, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.”17 This is one of the most wonderful verses in the Bible to hang on to, especially when making decisions. We don’t have to know all the answers, we don’t have to lean on our own ideas or wisdom; we just have to lean on the Lord and His leadings.
Whatever you have to do, pray about it. The Lord is always right there with you. He says, “I’ll never leave thee nor forsake thee.”18 He’s always there. So it’s never God who’s not there; it’s us who are sometimes not always there, when we run off someplace else and leave Him behind when we forget to pray.
He’s promised that if you acknowledge Him, He will direct your paths. He says, “You shall hear a voice behind you, saying, This is the way, walk ye in it.”19 So ask the Lord about everything before you do it. Make sure it’s what He wants you to do.
Seek Him about everything—every problem, every decision—and He will never fail you or let you down!
Compiled from the writings of David Brandt Berg, originally published in 1984.
Adapted and republished March 2018. Read by Simon Peterson.
1 Matthew 6:8.
2 Matthew 7:7–8.
3 Matthew 7:9–11.
4 Jeremiah 33:3.
5 John 15:5.
6 Philippians 4:13.
7 Psalm 55:22; 1 Peter 5:7.
8 Matthew 11:28–30.
9 1 Samuel 3:10.
10 1 Kings 19:12.
11 Psalm 46:10; Isaiah 30:15.
12 Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12.
13 Isaiah 40:31.
14 Luke 18:1.
15 Matthew 26:41.
16 1 Thessalonians 5:17.
17 Proverbs 3:5–6.
18 Hebrews 13:5.
19 Isaiah 30:21.