“He was praying in a certain place, and when He finished, His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John also taught his disciples.’” (Luke 11:1)
The disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray. Evidently, they saw something in the way He prayed, or something in the impact of His praying, that appealed to them, and they wanted it. Jesus responded in three ways.
First, He gave them an outline to help them know how to pray. We call this “the Lord’s prayer,” though more accurately it should be described as “the disciples’ prayer.” It was never meant to be something to recite by rote memory as a complete prayer, though it is certainly a complete prayer. Rather, it amounted to some “hooks” on which to hang our prayer thoughts.
Second, through the use of an example Jesus showed them that they must be consistent and persistent in their praying. He taught them to keep on asking, to keep on searching, and to keep on knocking. He seemed to be telling them that persistent prayer has an impact.
Third, through the use of another metaphor, Jesus wanted them to grow in their understanding of the nature of God. He wanted them to see that our God is a loving Father who gives good gifts to His children. As part of this thought, He encouraged them especially to pray that God would give them the Holy Spirit.
Now, fast forward: It is now post-crucifixion, post-resurrection, and post-Pentecost. Peter and John had been arrested for the first time and reprimanded by the Sanhedrin for their preaching of Christ. This was precipitated by a healing that Peter performed on the temple steps. After their release they returned to the church, where all assembled and praised God. They did not pray that the persecution would stop or that they would be save. In the context of their praise, they prayed for boldness to preach, that God would perform signs and wonders of healing. The place was shaken, and they were all then filled with the Spirit. They then preached the message with boldness.
Sounds like the apostles got it, after Pentecost at least.
So, do we? Do we pray about the right things? Maybe we should keep our praying focused on being filled with the Holy Spirit so that we can carry out the work of God, regardless of any situation we may face.
Lord, Help us to understand how to pray, and help us then to pray. Amen.