Part I: The Importance of Biblical Teachers | Part II: Defining the Teacher’s Responsibility | Part III: Concern for False Teachers

Prayer has to do with the entire man. Prayer takes in man in his whole being—mind, soul, and body. It takes the whole man to pray, and prayer affects the entire man in its gracious results. As the whole nature of man enters into prayer, so also all that belongs to man is the beneficiary of prayer. All of man receives benefits in prayer. The whole man must be given to God in praying. -E. M. Bounds

I believe that it is for the reasons presented so eloquently above that prayer is so often neglected.

The past few posts have focused solely on the gift of teaching and its importance. There is one additional element which must be taken into account in the life of any Christian, but specifically in that of the teacher. You see, the life of the teacher must be founded in prayer. Let’s look at the life of Ezra:

This Ezra came up from Babylon; and he was a skilled scribe in the Law of Moses, which the Lord God of Israel had given … For Ezra had prepared his heart to seek the Law of the Lord, and to do it, and to teach statutes and ordinances in Israel (Ezra 7:6, 10).

Notice that Ezra was a teacher. His entire life was centered on that task, we see in verse 10 that he prepared his heart to seek God’s Law, surrender himself to do God’s Law, and skill others in God’s Law. Ezra encapsulates the whole life of a follower of God in that verse, and for our purposes the gift of teaching. Kidner explains, “With study, conduct and teaching put deliberately in this right order, each of these was able to function properly at its best: study was saved from unreality, conduct from uncertainty, and teaching from insincerity and shallowness.” Teachers of God’s Word must prepare themselves properly to protect the body from insincere teaching. Skip down to Ezra 8, and an event which occurs during his travel to Jerusalem from Babylon:

Then I proclaimed a fast there at the river of Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from Him the right way for us and our little ones and all our possessions. For I was ashamed to request of the king an escort of soldiers and horsemen to help us against the enemy on the road, because we had spoken to the king, saying, “The hand of our God is upon all those for good who seek Him, but His power and His wrath are against all those who forsake Him.” So we fasted and entreated our God for this, and He answered our prayer (Ezra 8:21-23).

Ezra focused everything on God. He sought God for the right way to handle a situation which arose. So they fasted and appealed to God’s Will and He answered their prayer. Our studying and Biblical training amounts to nothing unless it is properly organized by God centered prayer. Continual interaction with our Lord and Savior is essential.

Turning back to the initial quote by Bounds, remember that the whole of man enters into prayer. As I stated above it is for this reason that man neglects prayer. You see, when our conscience is defiled the first thing to leave is communion with God… we first drop player. Why? Because when you enter into prayer all of your imperfections and short comings are laid before your Lord. When we approach God we have no choice but to first and foremost confess our sins, and only after our hearts and minds are aligned with God will our knowledge be properly directed and our teaching bring glory to whom glory is due. Jude reminds us, “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life” (Jude 1:20-21). I’ll leave you with another quote from E. M. bounds:

It is man’s business to pray, and it takes manly men to do it. It is godly business to pray, and it takes godly men to do it. And it is godly men who give themselves over entirely to prayer. Prayer is far-reaching in its influence and in its gracious effects. It is intense and profound business that deals with God and His plans and purposes, and it takes wholehearted men to do it. No halfhearted, half-brained, half-spirited effort will do for this serious, all-important, heavenly business. The whole heart, the whole brain, and the whole spirit must be engaged in the matter of praying, which is so mightily to affect the characters and destinies of men.

-Next, teach God or teach the world?

E. M. Bounds, E. M. Bounds On Prayer (New Kensington: Whitaker House, 1997), p 287.

Derek Kinder, Ezra & Nehemiah, TOTC (Nottingham: Inter-Varsity Press, 1979), p 62.

Bounds, On Prayer, p 290.