Lord, Teach Us To Pray, by Andrew Murray
This book is one of the free books I downloaded some time ago , and while it was a short book it is definitely worthy of discussion. There are some authors whose personality shines through in the sort of text that they write. Some people, without any sort of intent, bear out their personalities to a such an extent that reading what they write, one gets the feeling that one knows them. Sometimes this can be a good thing and sometimes not, and it must be said that Andrew Murray, at least as he appears in this book, does not appear as if he would be a very friendly person, even if he does strike the reader as both sincere and passionate. His archaic language, even for his time, and his surety about himself in doubtful matters strikes the reader as being a bit less pleasant than a more friendly writer would be. This is not a book that is warm towards others, even if it is about a subject of considerable importance and is an accomplished work in some respects.
The subject matter of this book is very straightforward. The author takes as his text the first part of Matthew 6, including the Lord’s Prayer, and examines the subject of prayer, as well as the role of Jesus Christ as the “only teacher.” From the title itself, there is already a sort of ominous close-mindedness itself at play. The text itself consists of short chapters explaining different aspects of the Lord’s Prayer interspersed with passionate prayers and dogmatic speculation. The end result is a curious amalgam of what look like shorter pamphlets, some of which are very personal and excellent, if written in a very archaic way, while others are pedantic cases where the writer beats sentences fine, looking at the four different ways to accent the title of the book, looking at each one in some detail. Even though the book is short, some of the repetition of the work can be a bit tedious.
That said, this book is a book about prayer, and it has some useful things to say. It comments on the relative importance of prayer to speaking in terms of the need for instruction, points to Jesus Christ (and scripture) as our teacher and instructor, even if it has a characteristically Greek approach to truth in that it fails to see the layers present in the Sermon on the Mount, and tends to pit spiritual faith against the ceremonies of worship rather than seeing them in harmony. These kinds of flaws, along with the dogmatic insistence the author has in his own views, makes this book less pleasurable than it would be were it written by someone whose prayers were more generous minded in nature. That said, it has some worthwhile things to say, reminds us of the fact that the words of the Bible can be taken differently depending on emphasis, and provides a read that is not too long to tax one’s patience.
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