One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teaches us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” – Luke 11:1
Everything Jesus does is on purpose. Throughout the gospels we see Jesus regularly and intentionally praying. One day his disciples finally asked what they had already been asking amongst themselves: how do you do that, Lord?
Jesus is a teacher, so he naturally takes the opportunity to teach them what we now call the Lord’s prayer. Most followers of Jesus have the Lord’s prayer memorized, and rightly so, because it gives helpful structure for our conversation with God. These words have played a central role in the faith of billions around the world and over the centuries. Jesus basically taught us prayer in a nutshell. What a gift this is!
The prayer gets a ton of attention (as it should) but did you notice the setup for this moment between Jesus and his disciples?
- The disciples see that Jesus has something they don’t: a completely different kind of prayer life with God. They want what He’s got.
- The disciples have seen Jesus do this enough times that they finally asked, and it was only when they asked that he taught them. Jesus is always ready to teach, but he often waits until we’re ready to learn.
- The disciples want to pattern their lives after Christ, not just their location. “We don’t want to just walk behind you, Jesus — we want to interact with the world and the Father the way that you do.” Discipleship changes our path and our practices. They say, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” They saw what other discipleship scenarios brought about, and they wanted the same with Jesus. Today we live in a culture of discipleship, which happens whenever we pattern ourselves around something we perceive as bigger than us, thus giving it a god-like authority in our lives. We become disciples of a certain celebrity, pattern our lives after wildly successful people, even at the expense of faithfulness in our own context. Though we don’t call it such, people inherently understand discipleship because they see it modeled everywhere and passionately practiced. We need to make sure we’re on the right path, following Jesus in our steps and our practices.
One of the biggest unspoken lessons here on prayer is this: we’ve got to be intentional. Jesus showed them a revolutionary way to pray, not by doing a seminar but by simply being faithful enough that a pattern became apparent. The disciples just had to ask.
What do you see Jesus doing in the scripture (or in the world) that inspires you to make it part of your ritual? After all, that’s what discipleship truly is. When Jesus shows you, ask Him the question: “how do you do that, Lord?”