Have you ever wondered what prompted Jesus’ already devout disciples to ask, “Lord, teach us to pray?”
The disciples observed that Jesus would go out to lonely places, sometimes all night, to pray. Invariably when Jesus ate, they saw that he prayed, thanking God for the food.
They knew that Jesus prayed when he was grateful. He prayed for children. He prayed when he was distressed, as in the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus prayed when he was concerned for someone, as when he interceded for Peter that his faith might not fail.
Listening to Jesus, the disciples heard prayers of all kinds: long, short, formal (as at the last supper), and intense.
The disciples were at his side, gaping at a withered fig tree, when Jesus made an extraordinary claim about prayer—“Whatever you ask you will receive!” In his teaching, Jesus qualified this in two ways, first, by insisting that prayers be in his name (that is, in accord with his character and mission) and, second, that they be “in faith.” Yet even a man who said, “I believe, help my unbelief,” evidently had enough faith, because his son was healed.
Jesus taught that prayers should not be ostentatious, should be prayed in a spirit of forgiveness and unworthiness, should be persistent but not verbose, should encompass those who mistreat us, even enemies, and should be prayed in confidence of God’s love and concern.
By word and example, Jesus commended prayer like this to his disciples—and to us.
Supporting Scripture, by paragraph
Mk. 1:39, Lk. 5:16; Mt. 14:23, Mk. 6:48, Lk. 6:12; Mt. 14:19; 15:36; Mk. 6:41, Mk. 8:6, Lk. 9:16, Jn.6:11
Lk. 10:21; Mt. 19:13, Mk. 10:16; Mt. 26:36-44, Mk. 14:32-39, Lk. 22:41-44; Lk. 22:32
Jn. 17:1-25; Jn. 11:41-42; Mt. 27:26; Jn. 17:1-20; Lk. 22:44, Heb. 5:7
Mt. 21:22; Jn. 14:13-14, 15:16, 23-24, 26; Mt. 21:22, Mk. 11:44; Mk. 9:24
Mt. 6:5-6; Mk. 11:25; Lk. 18:10-11; Lk. 18:1; Mt. 6:7, Mk. 12:40, Lk. 20:47; Lk. 6:28, Mt. 5:44; Mt. 6:9-13, Lk. 11:2-4