Have you heard the term “arrow prayer” or “javelin prayer”? These are short, perhaps urgent prayers that you can pray throughout the day. A longer prayer time or praying with a friend might not be possible at any given moment, but God is always listening and hears not only our spoken words but our heart’s language as well. Practicing short prayers can help us obey Paul’s exhortation to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17).
When Jesus taught His disciples to pray, He began with a model (vv. 1–4). Today’s reading is a shorter version of the “Lord’s Prayer” (Matt. 6:9–13). Its ingredients include worship, submission to the will of God, and requests for physical (daily bread) and spiritual (forgiveness) provision, as well as one against temptation.
Second, Jesus exhorted His disciples to be bold and persistent in prayer (vv. 5–8). He told a story of asking a friend for bread at midnight. To us, this sounds borderline inappropriate, especially when the word is translated “shameless audacity” (NIV) or “impudence” (ESV). But this idea of “presuming on a friend” shows deep confidence in the relationship and is thus a picture of strong faith.
Third, we should pray with expectation (vv. 9–10): If we ask, it will be given. If we seek, we’ll find. If we knock, the door will be opened. Prayer is not magical or manipulative, but God loves us and is eager to respond to our prayers. We don’t need to beg or appease a cranky deity. Instead, our Lord invites us to bring everything to Him in prayer (Phil. 4:6; 1 Peter 5:7). Fourth and summing up, Jesus viewed prayer as relational (vv. 11–13). God is our Father—of course He desires to give us good things! The best gift, now given to all believers, is the Holy Spirit.
>> The verbs in verse 9 are present imperatives: Keep asking, keep seeking, keep knocking. Today you might focus on one prayer request throughout the day, asking God persistently, boldly, audaciously—even shamelessly—either to grant your request or change it.