Now when the Lord had his times of prayer with the Father, the word of God described His places of prayer as being in a solitary place. Some of these places of prayer would be such places like Jesus being in the garden or Him going up into a mountain to pray. When Jesus prayed, He would sometimes send His disciples away and others times He would keep them close by as He prayed (Matthew 14:22 and Matthew 26:36-40). During one of His times of prayer, a disciple observed Him praying and asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. This disciple along with the others never asked Jesus to teach them how to heal the sick, to open the blinded eyes or to speak the word of the Lord with great power and authority. I believe this disciple understood that the prayer life of Jesus was performing miracles and reconciling men back to the Father. He not only saw this in the Life of his Master but the word of God declared that he had some knowledge of John the Baptist also teaching his disciples to pray as well.
Now there is nothing in the scriptures of the New Testament in detail on how John the Baptist taught his disciples to pray. As a forerunner for Christ, he was primarily known for declaring to all of Israel that the Kingdom of God was at hand. However, Luke’s gospel let us know that John was a man who spent time in prayer and who also taught his own disciples to pray. As both John and Jesus influenced their disciples to want to pray, we also have the responsibility to want to learn how to pray. Now there are three important principles I believe we must apply in our lives for the Lord to be able to teach us how to pray. The first principle that we as believers must apply in wanting to learn how to pray is having a willingness to want to learn from the Lord. The second principle that we as men and women of faith, we must hold onto the truth that we have a very dependable Father. Finally, the third principle that we must hold onto is that our Father in Heaven is able to give good gifts to His children.
And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples (Luke 11:1).
A willingness to learn
The first principle that we as believers must apply in wanting to learn how to pray is having a willingness to want to learn from the Lord. Have you ever heard a person praying in a prayer service and they did not sound like themselves but they sounded like someone else in the church? When they prayed, they sound like Deacon deep in the word or Prophetess I have it all together more than you do. I believe it important for us to understand that God never called us to imitate or mimic someone else’s prayer life. The Lord has used some important people to influence my prayer life because of the prayer life that they lived and demonstrated before me. However, our willingness to learn how to pray should come from a heart that wants to hear the whispers of His voice. We should have a passion to want to hear the conversation of Heaven more than the sermons which are preached by men. To make the error in mimicking another person how they pray for the purpose of wanting God to bless you in like making the same mistake that Jacob did. When Jacob approached his father seeking to be blessed by him, he pretended to be his brother Esau and deceived his father Isaac. Our Heavenly Father cannot be deceived by us and the blessing that we seek from His hand while mimicking some else will only result in causing us more harm than good (Genesis 27:21-24).
A willingness to learn how to pray also means that we must learn how to persevere in our prayer time. In the parable of the persistent friend, Jesus taught that a person had an unexpected friend come and visit him at midnight. The host who did not have any bread to give to his friend began knocking on some of his neighbor’s doors trying to find bread. The host knocked on one of his friend’s door who refused to get up and to wake his family to provide bread for the host. However, because the persistent friend kept knocking at the man door, he got up and gave his friend the bread he needed. The bible does not tell us that the person did not give the bread because of the friendship that both men had with one another. However, the man got up in the middle of the night and gave to the host because the man was persistent and would not give up. When we asked the Lord to teach us to pray we have to be willing to learn to persistent in prayer and having faith knowing our Father will bless us.
A Very Dependable Father
The second principle that we as men and women of faith must hold onto is that we have a very dependable Father. When Jesus began his discussion on prayer, He taught His disciples to address God as “Our Father which art in heaven”. When Jesus ended His discussion on prayer, He let His disciples know that we have a Father who knows how to give good gifts to His children, when they make their requests to Him (Luke 11:10-13). God is just not the Baptist’s Father, the Pentecostal’s Father, or the Church of God in Christ’s Father, but God Almighty is Our Father which art in heaven. Yes God Almighty has many names throughout the word of God which helps to reveal to us His nature and character. However, the most important thing that Jesus stressed to His disciples and to us that our God is revealed as a very dependable Father. Our Father is able to meet every need that we have rather the need is an expected need or an unexpected need (Philippians 4:19).
Some examples of our expected needs would be such things as our need to support of ourselves, our families and finding our children a great school that will help them to achieve academic success. On the other hand, the unexpected needs that may arise in our lives when we might lose our job, having unexpected car trouble or your boiler not running on a cold winter night. However, I am so glad that Jesus taught his disciples during the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew gospel, to ask the Father “give us this day our daily bread” which covers not only our expected needs but also our unexpected needs (Matthew 6:11). There is no failure in our Father because our God will not fail us. Our Heavenly Father will not go back on His word because “He is not a man that should lie, neither the son of man will repent” (Numbers 23:19).
A Father who gives good gifts
Finally, the third principle that we must hold onto is that our Father in Heaven is able to give good gifts to His children. As we make our requests to the Father in prayer out of humility and reverence, His word promises whatsoever we desire when we pray we shall receive it (Mark 11:24). If we seek after the Lord and we are desperate for Him, He will reveal Himself to us. If we continue to knock at the door He has placed before us, the Lord has promised a blessing that the door will open for us. Not only does the Lord promise to open the door which we are knocking at, but He we open up the windows of Heaven and pour out a blessing that we will not have room enough for us to receive (Malachi 3:10). What the Lord has for you, will only be for you and not for someone else. What the Lord has for me will only be for me and no man will be able to keep close to me.
Now there were three questions that Jesus asked His disciples during His discussion on prayer which is important for us to grasp hold on and seek to learn how to pray. In Luke 11:11-13 Jesus said “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him”? If we asked the Lord for bread and He does not provide it in the timing we think we should have it, that does not mean His delay mean God is giving us a stone. If we ask Him for a fish and the answer that He provides we do not agree with should not be viewed as God giving us a water serpent. If we ask the Lord for an egg, we cannot allow frustration and bitter experiences of life to deceive us into thinking that the Lord has given us a scorpion. However, what the Lord wants us to recognize that He is able to give us the Holy Spirit and give good gifts to His children. When He pours out His blessing upon your life, and you do not recognize the ways He is doing it, you must hold onto to the truth that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17).