What does it mean when those who had walked closely with Jesus, had been at many of His prayer times, and seen most of His ministry, suddenly ask Him to teach them how to pray?
Maybe they are just like most of us. We start of with tremendous energy and zeal, willing to take on and move any mountain that presents itself. Little by little we find that the words we have are inadequate, there seems to be no clear way to express what is in our heart with words, the energy is a little less than when we started out.
King David (the warrior, worshipper, and man after God's own heart) comes to a place in Psalm 109 where in the midst of great difficulty he simply says "I prayer..." - how can we get to such a place? A place where there are no clever words any more, and where we begin to reflect all that God is back to Him and realise that He is the One who moves to bring change, He is the only answer we will ever need or find.
I call it the difference between horizontal and vertical praying. When we pray horizontally our focus in on the object of the prayer which we bombard with everything we can find in the Word and in ourselves until we have a sense of something changing. However, vertical prayer pushes us to our knees before a God who is ALWAYS ABLE to do more than we can ask or imagine. He has promised never to leave or forsake us. He is the same, yesterday, today and forever. He never sleeps. He created all things. He still today sustains all life that exists. He is great, majestic, all powerful, all knowing - suddenly we are no longer looking at the problem but have come face to face with THE ANSWER!!
As we gaze upon THE ANSWER and our hearts fill with love, faith, and joy in His presence, we have drawn near to Him and He draws near to us. His presence begins to invade what we are holding before Him and bring His order into the life or situation - after all He is the One who created everything. As we are in His presence, we begin to become like the One we behold and we are changed, even as He moves to change those things we have lifted before His throne.
We find ourselves now poured out as prayer before the throne of God. The answer Jesus Christ gave to His questioning disciples makes perfect sense to us now:
"Our Father in Heaven,
Holy is Your Name,
Your Kingdom Come,
Your will be Done
On earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive our sins
As we forgive those who sin against us.
Lead us not into temptation
But deliver us from evil,
Now and forever.