"If your little boy asks for a serving of fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? If your little girl asks for an egg, do you trick her with a spider? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing - you're at least decent to your own children. And don't you think that the Father who conceived you in love will give the Holy Spirit when you ask Him." Luke11:10-13, (The Message).
Again Jesus uses an exaggerated contrast to teach me the scope of God's generosity to His children. Fathers give their children the simple things they ask for because it is within the scope of what they are able to do. They are generous to their children as good fathers because they are able to meet that need, and they do it because they love their children.
But what about our heavenly Father? How does He respond to the children to whom He gave spiritual birth through the sacrifice of His Son, Jesus? According to Romans 8:32, "If God didn't hesitate to put everything on the line for us, embracing our condition and exposing Himself to the worst by sending His own Son, is there anything He wouldn't gladly and freely do for us?" (The Message).
In this teaching on prayer in response to the disciples' request, Jesus pins my attention on three questions: 1. Who and what is the focus of my prayer? 2. What is my attitude to Him? 3. What do I expect of Him? If I can answer these three questions from His perspective, I have grasped the real meaning of prayer and can expect to nurture my fellowship with the Father as Jesus did.
In His model prayer, Jesus teaches me that prayer is primarily about who and what I must become aware of. Prayer is not prayer if it is all about me and my concerns. Prayer is the simple act of turning my head to face the One who can bear the burden. Why can I have confidence in Him to handle whatever my issues are? He is my Father, my life-source who is as near to me as my breath. He brought me to physical and spirital birth and He has accepts full responsibility for me as His child.
Although He is unseen, He is real, more real than the world around me. He knows me more intimately than I know myself. I can hide nothing from Him, therefore I can best nurture my relationship with Him by being transparent and direct. As a tiny child comes to its father in dependence and trust, so I come to my Father with an open heart.
Although little children sometimes think that daddy can give them the world, they ask in innocence and ignorance, but there is nothing my Heavenly Father cannot supply according to my need. I have no need greater than the Holy Spirit and He has promised to give Him to me if I ask Him. He has already given me His Spirit and, because He leads me, I know that I am His son or daughter.
And so my understanding of prayer comes full circle back to the fundamental issue of sonship. Prayer is only prayer in the environment of God and me as Father and 'son'. Prayer is not prayer unless it is the intimate interaction between Father and son.