Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished one of his disciples said to him, “Lord teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
Prayer does not come naturally.
We are not born knowing how to come to God in prayer.
It is a practice of nurture, not nature.
Otherwise, why would Jesus’ disciples ask Him to teach them how to pray?
Each of the twelve grew up in a Jewish society, learning the specific prayers to be made at specific times. They must have assumed that they had a sufficient understanding of prayer.
But Jesus shattered those assumptions.
For Jesus, prayer was not a thing of secondary importance. It was foundational to His ministry, serving as a bedrock for all that He did. They witnessed miracle after miracle. Lepers were cleansed. Paralytics were healed. Even the dead were raised to life. They also heard the words of incalculable wisdom that flowed from His mouth, words which caused their hearts to burn within them (Luke 24:32), words of eternal life (John 6:68).
But at the core of it all was Jesus’ prayer to the Father.
Though crowds continuously gathered to hear His words and be healed, Jesus “would withdraw to desolate places and pray (Luke 5:16).” This means that He would regularly pull away from doing His ministry in order to engage in a more crucial ministry: praying to the Father. And before choosing the twelve disciples, Jesus “went to the mountain to pray, and all night continued in prayer to God (Luke 6:12).” The importance of the decision required much time in prayer. Further, we are told that the Transfiguration occurred “as he was praying (Luke 9:29)”.
Slowly, it seems that the disciples began to realize the connection between Jesus’ ministry of teaching and healing and His ministry of prayer. In short, Jesus’ prayers accomplished things. He spoke to His Father, and the Father responded. For Jesus, prayer was not a passive add-on; rather, it was the strength by which He did His work.
No wonder the disciples asked this question of Him.
After witnessing Him in a normal time of prayer, one of them resolves to learn how to pray like Jesus. This ought to be the greatest thought we have on prayer: Lord, teach me to pray!
In an effort to gain a greater understanding of prayer and, ultimately, to pray like Christ, I will be meditating and expositing upon important Scriptures concerning prayer. Because Jesus answered His disciple’s question with the Lord’s Prayer, we will begin with it as our model prayer from Christ Himself. Then we will search the Word for further glimpses of how we ought to pray like Jesus.
It is interesting to note that other than the Lord’s Prayer, there are few portions of Scripture that speak heavily and directly upon the subject; this does not mean, however, that prayer is undiscussed in the Bible.
It is, in fact, just the opposite.
Prayer is peppered throughout the entirety of the Scriptures.
It is simply there, ungirding everything else that the Word expounds upon, providing the support from which discipleship, evangelism, preaching, fellowship, and service spring forth.
Unfortunately, because the foundation goes largely unseen, it is also the easiest to fall into neglect. May we, therefore, determine in ourselves that we will not let the foundation go unnoticed and disregarded, and instead continuously pray for the Lord to teach us how to pray.
Throughout this week meditate upon Luke 11:1, particularly the disciples’ desire to learn to pray like Jesus.
Pray, then, for the Father to teach us to pray like Christ.