Of all the things that help us as God’s children while on this earth, knowing and obeying God’s will, and constantly talking to Him in prayer are the two most important. We are just not always sure as to when or how we should pray. That is a not a new problem.
In Luke 11:1, after Jesus had finished praying, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray even as John taught his disciples to pray.” Even though they had often heard the Lord pray, they evidently were not exactly sure how it was to be done. Did they want to know how often they were to pray? Were they not really sure as for what they should pray? Maybe they were wondering what phrases should or should not be used, or possibly what posture a person should have when addressing God.
One of my favorite Bible Class teachers at Harding University, Brother Andy T. Ritchie the Third, would often take a kneeling position, when leading others in prayer. In the Bible, some lay with their faces to the ground, while others stood. Many men, when they first become Christians, are reluctant to lead a prayer, especially leading public prayers.. It may be because they had never prayed before or had never been asked to pray in public. It may be just because they are not sure what to say. Possibly, they have heard others lead public prayers, and mistakenly, think they must use the same phrases others have used, and have a fear of forgetting some of those phrases.
Regardless of the reasons, the disciples felt that they needed some teaching in this most important area, having a conversation with God. As Jesus granted the disciples their request, the first thing He told them was to remember that it was God to whom they were speaking. Because of their relationship to God, they were to address Him as their Father, and to commend Him because of His greatness, “Hallowed be Thy Name.” Jesus then told the disciples some things for which they should pray. They were told to pray for their daily bread, or basic necessities of life. They were also told to ask the Lord to deliver them from Satan’s evil temptations. He possibly told them some other things concerning prayer, but with the exception of talking to them about forgiveness, and telling them to pray for the Kingdom to come, those phrases mentioned are all the Holy Spirit chose to be used at that time.
However, we know that Jesus said many other things concerning prayer while He was here. In Matthew 7:7-11, Jesus told His disciples to ask, seek, and knock. He then stated that he who asked would receive, he who seeked, or looked, would find that for which he was seeking, and to him who was knocking, the door would be opened to him. What a great encouragement to pray.
People often refused to do that during the days of Jesus, and many refuse to do so today. As mentioned earlier, prayer is one of the most important things in a Christian’s life, but it is of very little value if not used. James 4:2-3 says that many do not have because they do not ask. He then says that others ask and do not receive because they ask with the wrong motives. Naturally, the Lord wants us to get our priorities straight. Maybe, that is what the disciples were asking Jesus. “Lord teach us what is really important and help us put it into words?”
On another occasion, Jesus spoke of the importance of being persistent in our prayers. Unfortunately many in the days of Jesus, showed a lack of patience and therefore, would stop asking God for something after they did not get a quick positive answer. In Luke eighteen Jesus gave an extremely important piece of advice when talking about the need to keep asking God. He mentioned a judge in a certain city who cared nothing about God or man. In the same city, there was also a widow who desperately needed help. Going to the judge, the widow asked him for legal protection. Jesus said even though the judge cared nothing for the widow, he decided to help her because she was wearing him out. That was simply an illustration. The meaning is that God wants us to keep coming to Him and not quit just because we don’t first of all get that for which we have asked.
Today, we do need to be taught to pray and the best instruction book we will ever have is God’s inspired word. May we all read it diligently, become familiar to those passages concerning prayer, and utilize it to our best ability.