Want to learn more about building a life of prayer? Me too. Meet me here on Wednesdays for an ongoing series exploring prayer using Dr. Andrew Murray's book, With Christ in the School of Prayer. I'm honored to learn alongside you.
In lesson nineteen, Dr. Murray brings us to the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the instructions He leaves His disciples - mature believers who have walked with Him:
They are now His friends to whom He has made known all that He has heard of the Father; His messengers, who have entered into His plans, and into whose hands the care of His work and kingdom on earth is to be entrusted. They are now to go out and do His works, and in the power of His approaching exaltation, even greater works: prayer is now to be the channel through which that power is to be received for their work. With Christ’s ascension to the Father a new epoch commences for their working and praying both.
‘Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do.’—John xiv. 12, 13.
Dr. Murray draws our attention to two points:
"...they would ask and receive all in His Name, and as a consequence, would do the greater works. [...] He that would do the works of Jesus must pray in His Name. He that would pray in His Name must work in His Name."
Jesus is about to ascend to His Father. He will no longer be present in body to do the work of His Kingdom. His disciples are going to become His body, and because Jesus has gone to His Father, He will have all power to equip His body for His work.
"His approaching death was to be such a real breaking down and making an end of the power of sin; with the resurrection the powers of the Eternal Life were so truly to take possession of the human body and to obtain supremacy over human life; with His ascension He was to receive the power to communicate the Holy Spirit so fully to His own; the union, the oneness between Himself on the throne and them on earth, was to be so intensely and divinely perfect, that He meant it as the literal truth: ‘Greater works than these shall he do, because I go to the Father.’ And the issue proved how true it was. While Jesus, during three years of personal labour on earth, gathered little more than five hundred disciples, and the most of them so feeble that they were but little credit to His cause, it was given to men like Peter and Paul manifestly to do greater things than He had done. From the throne He could do through them what He Himself in His humiliation could not yet do.
What a staggering thought...."greater works than these." This, from the Man who healed and loved and saved and brought life. This is our commision, church! But to access that power to work, we must PRAY.
" O that every labourer and leader in church, or school, in the work of home philanthropy or foreign missions might learn the lesson: Prayer in the Name of Jesus is the way to share in the mighty power which Jesus has received of the Father for His people, and it is in this power alone that he that believeth can do the greater works. To every complaint as to weakness or unfitness, as to difficulties or want of success, Jesus gives this one answer: ‘He that believeth on me shall do greater works, because I go to the Father, and whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do.’ We must understand that the first and chief thing for everyone who would do the work of Jesus, is to believe, and so to get linked to Him, the Almighty One, and then to pray the prayer of faith in His Name. Without this our work is but human and carnal; it may have some use in restraining sin, or preparing the way for blessing, but the real power is wanting. Effectual working needs first effectual prayer."
But there is a flip side to this amazing prayer promise: we must be about our Father's work.
"In these parting words of our blessed Lord we find that He no less than six times (John xiv. 13, 14, xv. 7, 16, xvi. 23, 24) repeats those unlimited prayer-promises which have so often awakened our anxious questionings as to their real meaning: ‘whatsoever,’ ‘anything,’ ‘what ye will,’ ‘ask and ye shall receive.’ How many a believer has read these over with joy and hope, and in deep earnestness of soul has sought to plead them for his own need. And he has come out disappointed. The simple reason was this: he had rent away the promise from its surrounding. The Lord gave the wonderful promise of the free use of His Name with the Father in connection with the doing of His works."
Oh how deeply this speaks to the heart: to be about our Father's business, to find answers to prayer in the work for His Kingdom. How often have we labored away, prayer-less, and found ourselves dry and empty and impotent? How often have we wasted prayer on our own appetites and lusts and the work of God lay undone?
"But to him who seeks to pray the effectual prayer of faith, because he needs it for the work of the Master, to him it will be given to learn it; because he has made himself the servant of his Lord’s interests. Prayer not only teaches and strengthens to work: work teaches and strengthens to pray. [...]
Believer in Jesus! You are called, you are appointed, to do the works of Jesus, and even greater works, because He has gone to the Father to receive the power to do them in and through you.
Whatsoever ye shall ask in my Name, that will I do. Give yourself, and live, to do the works of Christ and you will learn to pray so as to obtain wonderful answers to prayer. Give yourself, and live, to pray and you will learn to do the works He did, and greater works. With disciples full of faith in Himself, and bold in prayer to ask great things, Christ can conquer the world."
This chapter stirs the heart and opens our eyes. Lord, may we be about Your business. May we do the works of Your Kingdom, and may we be equipped with Your perfect power through prayer.
Help us, Lord, not to be prayerless workers nor to be workless prayers. Show us both how to pray and how to do. When we are confused about where to put our hands to work, Lord, show us. Open our eyes to the fields ripe for harvest out our doors. Whatever work needs to be done - be it forgiveness, healing, mercy, witnessing, serving, sheltering - make us willing servants with ready hearts. And when we have the task in hand - make us pray-ers. May we not speak or teach or touch or serve without prayer on our lips and Your provision in our hearts. May the hunger for prayer burn within us.
Lord how can we thank You for teaching us so patiently? For showing up week after week and instructing. Thank You for the faithful legacy of Dr. Murray and how prayer and work lived together in his ministry to be such a blessing to us today.
In Your precious Name,
Next week I'll be sharing my thoughts from Lesson Twenty: ‘That the Father May be Glorified’ Or, The Chief End of Prayer. I hope you'll join us.
Previous entries in this series can be found here: Wednesday Prayer Series