The disciples saw something in Jesus that they lacked. So one asked him, “Teach us how to pray” (Luke 11:1). Can we develop this spiritual quality? Can we learn how to pray? Certainly we can, and we must, in order to stay strong through the temptations and trials of life.
Think of the times of day when Jesus was found praying in the Gospels. Like Paul’s admonition, “Pray without ceasing,” we find Jesus praying at all times of day. When his ministry began to accelerate in the city of Capernaum, we find Jesus, before daylight, finding a place to pray alone (Mark 1:35-38). On another occasion, he went up into a mountain alone and prayed all night (Luke 6:12). Certainly we ought to begin and end every day, talking to our Father in heaven.
Consider the occasions when the Lord prayed. At his baptism, which commenced his earthly ministry, he prayed. The night before he chose from his disciples twelve apostles, he prayed at length (Luke 6:12). When he heard ofJohn’s execution, he withdrew and talked with his Father (Matthew 14:13,23). Upon a mountain, he was praying in the presence of Peter, James, and John, and he was transfigured before their eyes, and they heard the Majestic Voice testify concerning his glory and honor (Luke 9:28-29; cf. 2 Peter 1:16-18).
Shortly before the Lord’s death, he prayed in the upper room (Matthew 26:26-28), interceeded for his disciples (John 17), poured out his soul in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-46), and had prayed at some point especially on Peter’s behalf (Luke 22:31-32).
Likewise, on the cross the Lord was observed in prayer — for others, as well as for himself. In the hours of trial, leading up to, and on the cross, the Lord’s concern was the will and plan of God. That led him to think about the spiritual condition of others. It strengthened him to accomplish his part in the redemptive plan.
Evaluate your spirituality with the help of Jesus, as he teaches us how to pray in Matthew 6:9-13. He teaches us about our spiritual relationship with God. As a Christian, he is our Father. He instructs us to recognize God’s nature — he is holy. He wants us to focus on the plan of God — the kingdom has come. He desires that we be concerned with the will of God in our lives. He teaches us to appreciate the providence of God, which sustains us on a daily basis. He shows us the need for forgiveness — we need it, and we need to have a forgiving disposition towards others. He reminds us of our moral responsibility to resist temptation — pray for God’s help. He teaches us that God is the only one who can save us, delivering us from the evil one.
We need to pray fervently. We need to pray persistently. We must pray frequently — for the lost people we know, for our missionaries, for our elders, for our preachers, for the sick among us, for those who persecute us, for those who are visiting our services, for those with whom we are studying, for those who have fallen away, for our own spiritual development, for our own forgiveness, for our weaknesses, for God’s providence to use us in his cause.
As Jesus teaches us how to pray, he also indicates why we should pray. God, our Creator and Redeemer, is not a reluctant hearer. He is a willing listener, inviting us to pray and receive his blessings, as we offer up our petitions and thanksgivings to our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ our Lord.