“Now it came to pass, as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased, that one of His disciples said to Him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray…’" (Luke 11:1) The preceding scripture makes me wonder what it was about Jesus’ prayers that prompted His disciples to instruct them. After all, most Jewish males were taught to pray from an early age. By the time they reached adulthood, many had worded hundreds of prayers . Apparently, however, there was something about Jesus' prayers that made his followers feel like novices.
Was it the words He spoke? His posture? His fervency? Whatever it was, something about Jesus’ prayers left an impression upon His disciples.
Although most of our prayers occur in private, if someone else happened to observe or hear us, would anything about our prayers capture their attention?
An allied soldier in France was ordered to appear before his commanding officer. Upon doing so, his captain said, “Your sergeant has informed me you have been observed slipping off into the woods almost every night. It has also come to my attention that enemy patrols are occasionally spotted in those same woods. Can give me a compelling reason to believe that you have not been secretly passing on information to the enemy?”
Unshaken by the accusation, the private replied, “Sir, ever since I was a boy I’ve tried to slip away at dusk in order to pray. And unless it interferes with my duties, I attempt to do so to this day. I go into the woods to pray, sir.”
Skeptical, his captain challenged him, “Alright, show me how you pray in the woods.” Without hesitation, the private fell to his knees and began praying for his parents, siblings, comrades in arms, and even his captain. Before his prayer was finished, the captain courteously interrupted and said, “That’s sufficient, private. Please return to your duties. I’ll speak to your sergeant, advising him to treat your nightly trips to the woods as an order from me.” The captain then turned to a lieutenant and remarked, “I’ve never witnessed anyone pray as ardently as that soldier. Its clear to me that he’s had years of practice.”
“The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” (Jam. 5:16)
Jesus, always Jesus!