Teach me how to pray, mother!

(J. R. Miller, "The Wider Life" 1908)

"Lord, teach us to pray!" Luke 11:1

A little child missed her mother at a certain time every day. The mother's habit was to slip away upstairs alone, and to be gone for some time. The child noticed that the mother was always gentler, quieter and sweeter after she came back. Her face had lost its weary look—and was shining! Her voice was gladder, more cheerful.

"Where do you go, mother," the child said thoughtfully, "when you leave us every day?"

"I go upstairs to my room," said the mother.

"Why do you go to your room?" continued the little questioner. "You always come back with your face shining. What makes it shine so?"

"I go to pray," replied the mother reverently.

The child was silent for a little while, and then she said softly: "Teach me how to pray, mother!"

"When you pray, say: Our Father . . ." Luke 11:2

That one word is the key to the whole mystery of prayer. When Jesus taught his disciples to speak to God, calling Him by that blessed name—He gave them the greatest of all lessons in prayer. When we can look into God's face and honestly say 'Father,' it is easy to pray. God loves to be called 'Father'. It opens His heart to hear all that we say—and to grant all that we ask.

Such power has the word 'father' spoken by a child, to open a human heart. Such power too, has the name 'Father' to find and open the heart of God! If we can sincerely say 'Father' when we come to the 'gate of prayer', we shall be sure to find entrance. If God is really our Father, we will no longer have any question as to whether we may pray to Him, or as to how to pray.

Some of us find life hard. It is full of cares and questions, of tasks and duties, of temptations and dangers. There are thorns and briers, among its roses. There are pitfalls in its sunniest paths. If we do not know how to pray—we can never get through the days. The privilege of prayer is always ours. The 'gate of prayer' is always open! Any moment we can look up and say 'Father', lay our need before the throne of mercy—and God will answer us as He desires!