Seeing Jesus praying would be a common thing for those close to him. Jesus would clearly set aside time to communicate with his Father. So it doesn’t surprise me that the disciples would want to know more about it, and how to do it themselves.
You’ll probably recognize a portion of the Lord’s prayer here. Some churches don’t regularly recite this prayer, and other churches do so as routine practice in their worship services. The Lord’s Prayer is the perfect example of prayer for us to follow. There is a longer version in the book of Matthew.
You’ll see Jesus teaches we start by glorifying God. Our number one focus should be giving God the adoration he is due. Then there’s the ask. Too many times our prayers can be full of the “give me this” or “help me that”. Sometimes that’s all they are. We need to be careful not to get into that trap and only go to the Lord when we need or want something.
Next, we need to ask forgiveness and apologize for how we’ve fallen short, remembering to be forgiving of others, too. We mess up daily many times. Sometimes we don’t even know we’ve sinned. But we all do. Just like in a relationship with a friend, when you are hurt by them, an “I’m sorry” goes a long way to mend that relationship. So, too, with God. We should be truly repentant for how we have “misbehaved.”
But Jesus didn’t leave it there. He used a story. As I recall, Jewish families at this time would have likely all slept in the same room, perhaps even in the same bed. To be awakened in the night after all were nestled in would have been a bit awkward. It probably wasn’t as simple as jumping right out of bed. Custom would also suggest that if you have guests, you must offer them food. There was some urgency here, and the man wasn’t going to go home empty-handed.
The story has a deeper meaning — to remind us to persevere in our prayers. Sometimes we need to keep asking God for our heart’s desire. We need to keep seeking and knocking. Just as Jesus is persistent in his hope for us to return to him, so, too, we should be persistent in our asking for his help, deliverance, provision, etc.
But we need to be careful. If what we are asking for is for selfish gain or not within the plan God has for us, his answer is likely not to be what we are looking for. A “no” answer is still an answer. Just as we would not give bad things to our children (a snake instead of a fish or a scorpion instead of an egg), God is even more on the lookout to give us good things.
We may be asking for something that God knows is not good for us. He knows best, and we have to trust him. Jesus said, “how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.” There is a subtle hint here. We need to be asking for the Holy Spirit. With the Holy Spirit working in our lives, we have a new power that cannot be matched. Who wouldn’t want the same power that raised Jesus from the dead to be an advocate for them? We have access to that power.
What greater thing could we ask for? We know God is going to give us the Holy Spirit. We just need to ask. What that looks like will be different for each of us as the Holy Spirit gifts us each as he deems appropriate. While I’ve always asked to be able to speak in tongues, he has not gifted me with that but with other beautiful gifts that I can use to further his kingdom. The Holy Spirit will manifest itself differently in each of us. That is a whole different devotion, maybe even series of devotions.
Suffice it to say, we are to be praying. That is how we stay in communication with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. If we don’t pray, it’s like we don’t acknowledge their existence and try to make it through like on our own power. God’s power is better. Experience that today.
Let’s pray. Father God you are almighty and all knowing. You know when I lay down and when I get up. You have put the stars in place and created all that I see, even those pesky insects. You have a place and a purpose for all of us. One purpose I know is to praise you, honor you and follow you. Forgive me for when I go down a negative road or act in ways that don’t please you. Help me to bless others in your name. Help me to be a better listener. In Jesus’ name, Amen.