Learning from the Master

“Lord, teach us to pray.”
Luke 11:1

Years ago I was privileged to develop a relationship with a veteran preacher and Bible scholar who later became a mentor to me in many ways. We first met while serving together on a Bible college faculty. Some years later, when he was serving on a local church board, he contacted me to inquire whether I would consider becoming the church’s pastor, which I later did.

When it came to preaching on the major themes of Scripture, there was no one I enjoyed listening to more than S. I. Emery (1895-1977). He would soar in eloquence as he expounded upon the doctrine of Christ’s atonement in particular. Blessed with a deep, bass voice, usually preaching without a note in front of him, this dear brother’s passion for Christ and the Cross were both intense and genuine. Rarely did I hear him preach, but soon into his sermon he would have a handkerchief in hand, dabbing his nose, giving an occasional sniff, while his voice quivered as he tried to control his emotions.

As much as I enjoyed listening to Dr. Emery preach and teach the Word of God, I was blessed as well listening to him pray. He was as well-versed in the Scriptures as any person I’ve known, and when he prayed, he would recite appropriate Scriptures. And you could not listen to him pray without concluding that he knew God. I loved to hear him pray; in listening to him, I felt like I didn’t know how to pray.

After the disciples listened to Jesus pray one day, they urged him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). There is no record in the Gospels of any disciple requesting that Jesus teach them how to preach or teach, though we can be certain, he was a master of both. But, oh … when the Twelve heard Jesus pray, they were deeply affected with the intimacy by which he spoke to his Father, and the utter simplicity and faith by which he offered his requests. Their prayers were lifeless and listless compared to Christ’s; they knew their prayer-life was sorely deficient. “Lord, teach us to pray,” they pleaded.

We would do well to repeatedly make the same request.


Taken from . . .
Renewed by the Spirit: 365 Daily Meditations
by Ralph I. Tilley
copyright © 2016 Ralph I. Tilley
(May be copied for noncommercial purposes;
not to exceed 500 copies.)