It is uncertain how long the twelve disciples followed Jesus, but in their training they were taught to pray at one point (Luke 11:1–13). Luke’s account intimates that Christ was praying in a certain place for a certain amount of time (v. 1). Apparently, the exact place and the exact amount of time are not important, as Luke’s emphasis is on the disciples’ enamored response and desire to be taught.
This reveals a couple of points. First, prayer is neither a talent or a gift or an innate ability. Some might place the act of praying on some higher level that only some individuals are good at. Some might think that God hears the prayers of some but not of others. However, prayer is a conversation between humanity and the divine—a skill that can be taught. Who better to teach bridging the two realms than Christ Himself, who came to be that Bridge? Have you asked Him how to pray? (Ironically, that in itself is a prayer!)
Second, there was something phenomenal and supernatural about Christ’s conversation that caused the disciples to ask for instruction. Whereas Christ was teaching and performing miracles, the disciples make it a point to ask Him directly about how He prayed. They may have seen others pray—the priests, Levites, Jewish leaders, and even the disciples of John. But Christ’s prayer was numinous; it caused them to wait until He finished praying before they made their request.
After modeling the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus presents a parable on prayer (Luke 11:5–8). While many other details and observations can be commented upon, the climax comes in verse 8, where Christ says, “Though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.” The word philo is Greek for friend and connotes a good friend, not a superficial acquaintance. What caused the man to get out of his bed in the middle of the night and risk waking his children? The word for persistence jumps out of the story. The Greek paints a shade to the word, where anaideia means shameless persistence or an unembarrassed boldness. It is this type of persistence that elevates a good friendship into an unblocked, raw, “shameless” one.