The important things in the personal life of a disciple of Jesus are Bible reading and prayer. Having just encouraged us to “listen to Jesus”, we are now given teaching on prayer.
John the Baptist had taught his disciples how to pray and, so, Jesus’ disciples want to learn how to pray a “Jesus kind of prayer” (v. 1). Jesus begins with a model prayer (vv. 2–4), and then to further explain the meaning of prayer, He tells a parable (vv. 5–8). Finally, He concludes by reminding us of the essence of prayer (vv. 9–13).
The Lord’s Prayer is remarkable for its brevity. First, we are to pray for the honour and glory of God, and for the spread of His rule across the world (v. 2). Then, we pray for the Father to grant us our needs: daily bread, forgiveness, and God’s protection in times of trial (vv. 3–4).
The parable describes a man who has a guest drop by at midnight (vv. 5–8). To his embarrassment, the host cannot feed his guest because the cupboard is empty. So he goes next door and wakes up his neighbour, who eventually grants the request, giving him “as much as you need” (v. 8).
Perhaps one reason we don’t go to our heavenly Father with our needs is that we think that our “cupboard” is full. We forget how destitute we are. In both the model prayer and the parable, Jesus shows us that prayer is about asking (v. 8). The one in need and who has nothing comes to the One who has plenty and who gives out of His abundance. In both cases, a key petition is the request for bread: one metaphorical, the other literal.
Jesus concludes by reminding us of the essential nature of Christian prayer. We should not be reluctant to ask, seek, and knock (v. 9). God will give us as much as we need. We may not always receive what we think we need, but God will give what is the very best for us because He is the good and loving Father. In particular, the Father will give us His Spirit: the One who empowers us for world mission, enables us to honour the Father’s name, and conforms us to the image of Jesus. What better thing is there to ask for?
How should we let the Lord’s Prayer (vv. 2–4) shape the way we pray as individuals and as a church?
The man in the parable asked his neighbour because his cupboard was empty. What stops us from praying as often as we should?