One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.” (Luke 11:1)

If Scripture is the spiritual food our hearts crave, prayer is the spiritual air we breathe. Little wonder that Jesus’s first followers wanted to learn directly from him. The request came after one of Jesus’s personal prayer times. Our Lord’s answer (what we call the Lord’s Prayer) is important, but there is something else here too. Something of, perhaps, surpassing value.

Why were Jesus’s prayers so compelling to this disciple?

To consider this, let’s look at some different pictures of Jesus praying in the gospel of Luke. When did Jesus spend time talking with His Father?

• Baptism. “When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened…” (Luke 3:21).

• Selection of the Twelve. “One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God. When morning came, he called his disciples to him and chose twelve of them, whom he also designated apostles…” (Luke 6:12–13).

• The Transfiguration. “About eight days after Jesus said this, he took Peter, John and James with him and went up onto a mountain to pray. As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning“ (Luke 9:28–29).

• On behalf of Peter. “Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you…” (Luke 22:31–32a).

• In the garden. “He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done’ ” (Luke 22:41–42).

• From the cross. “Jesus called out with a loud voice, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.’ When he had said this, he breathed his last” (Luke 23:46).

These aren’t the only times Jesus prayed; Luke 5:16 tells us “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.” Yet, in the critical moments, Jesus moved directly to His Father for communion, affirmation, and partnership.

As Jesus’ disciples were impressed with His prayers, the context of those prayers remind us that even the Son of God sought the refuge of the Father at critical moments in His life. And we can as well as we likewise ask Jesus to teach us to pray.

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