Scripture Verse

Lord, teach us to pray. Luke 11:1


James Montgomery (1771–1854)
National Portrait Gallery


Words: James Mont­go­me­ry, 1818.

Music: Camp­meet­ing Am­eri­can camp meet­ing me­lo­dy. Har­mo­ny by Ro­bert G. Mc­Cutch­an, 1935 (🔊 pdf nwc).

Alternate Tunes:

Robert G. McCutchan (1877–1958)

Origin of the Hymn

Montgomery wrote these words at the re­quest of Ed­ward Bi­ck­er­steth, who wanted them for his book Treatise on Pray­er. Mont­go­me­ry called this the most at­trac­tive hymn I ev­er wrote.


Prayer is the soul’s sin­cere de­sire,
Unuttered or ex­pressed;
The mo­tion of a hid­den fire
That trem­bles in the breast.

Prayer is the bur­den of a sigh,
The fall­ing of a tear
The up­ward glanc­ing of an eye,
When none but God is near.

Prayer is the simp­lest form of speech
That in­fant lips can try;
Prayer, the sub­lim­est strains
That reach the Ma­jes­ty on high.

Prayer is the Chris­tian’s vi­tal breath,
The Chris­tian’s na­tive air,
His watch­word at the gates of death;
He en­ters Heav’n with pray­er.

Prayer is the con­trite sin­ner’s voice,
Returning from his ways,
While ang­els in their songs re­joice
And cry, Be­hold, he prays!

The saints in pray­er ap­pear as one
In word, in deed, and mind,
While with the Fa­ther and the Son
Sweet fel­low­ship they find.

Nor pray­er is made on earth alone;
The Ho­ly Spir­it pleads,
And Je­sus, on th’eter­nal throne,
For sin­ners in­ter­cedes.

O Thou by whom we come to God,
The life, the truth, the way,
The path of pray­er Thy­self hast trod:
Lord, teach us how to pray.