Jesus’ disciples knew they could not handle life on their own. Yet they saw incredible power in Jesus and soon discovered the source—His prayer life. The disciples were so impressed with His praying that they asked Him to teach them to pray, which was the only aspect of the believers’ life in which the disciples asked for specific instruction. Jesus provided a model prayer. We know it as The Lord’s Prayer, but it would be better named The Disciples’ Prayer. In this prayer, Jesus taught us to:
Follow the Pattern of Prayer (vv. 1-4)
This prayer follows a consistent pattern found in other prayers throughout Scripture. Jesus instructs us to begin with reverence, “Father, hallowed be Your name.” Next, we yield to God’s character, “Your kingdom come.” Now, we are ready to express trust in God for the needs of our lives via our requests: “Give us each day our daily bread (physical needs), and forgive us our sins (spiritual needs), for we ourselves forgive everyone indebted to us” (relational needs).
Concluding, we are reminded of the spiritual contest before us. We know the time comes when we must get off our knees and reenter the world, “Lead us not into temptation.” Prayer is not an escape from the battles of life, but a great equipping to fight them in supernatural power.
Maintain Persistence in Prayer (vv. 5-8)
As soon as Jesus finished providing a model for prayer, He told of a man who went to his neighbor at midnight, banging on his door and asking to borrow three loaves of bread. The hour was late, the neighbor was unwilling; yet because of the man’s persistence, he was given what he needed.
Jesus’ point is that if a human being will respond to a neighbor in gracious manner, then Christians should go boldly before God with any need they face, for God is more gracious and caring than any human neighbor.
Persistence is a great instructor in the school of Christian growth. God does not become more willing to answer because of our persistence, but we may become more capable of receiving the answer. Persistent prayer does not change God, but it does change us.
Believe in the Promise of Prayer (vv. 9-10)
Jesus followed His story of persistence by providing one of the great promises regarding prayer. Jesus provided a three-fold promise in response to our prayers. If we ask (a common term for pray) we will receive; if we seek, we fill find; if we knock (as knocking at the gates of God for mercy), the door will be opened. The three verbs ask, seek, knock are present imperatives: “ask and keep on asking”; “seek and keep on seeking”; “knock and keep on knocking.”
The three verbs provide a general principle: Prayer is a continual habit of life. Never give up on prayer. Why? Because of God’s promise to answer.
I overheard a man ask a retired pastor: “When do I stop praying for something? I have prayed for my son to come to the Lord for years and have not seen any results.” The wise pastor replied, “Let me ask you two questions: Do you love your son? Do you believe God can answer prayer?” The man replied, “Well, yes and yes.” “Then,” said the pastor, “keep on praying. Never give up on your son or on God.”
Know the Parent of Prayer (vv. 11-13)
We don’t give up on God because God is our Father. If we, as parents who are evil or sinful, want to give the best gifts to our children, then God, our heavenly parent, wants to give even better gifts to us, His children. Jesus connects the final teaching on prayer—God is our Father who wants to give His children good gifts. Remember the first word of the Lord’s Prayer: Father.
Thus, this grand dialogue called prayer becomes a consistent conversation nestled in a daily relationship.