Find a quiet place, alone and apart from distractions. Be comfortably alert, still and at peace. Say the Lord’s Prayer. Sing or cant the Jesus Prayer. Pray for family, friends, neighbors, and yourself. Slowly and carefully read the passage of Scripture. Two stories now.
1. The first story: As Jesus was entering an unknown village (could it have been Bethany, the home of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus?) a woman named Martha invited Jesus into her home. There is no evidence to suggest the Twelve were there as well.
2. Martha was bothered that her sister Mary did not help with serving a large meal to Jesus. Very gently Jesus tells Martha that her sister has chosen to do well, not better, and Jesus politely says He will not stop her.
3. The second story: After Jesus was away praying, His disciples asked Him to teach them to pray. (It was customary for Rabbi’s to teach their followers a special prayer.)
4. Early on Jesus, as part of the Sermon on the Mount found in Matthew 6:5–13, had instructed His followers how to pray, and this known as The Lord’s Prayer.
5. Here now, in a setting different from that of Matthew’s, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them how to pray. The result is a shorter and slightly different form of prayer than found in The Lord’s Prayer found in Matthew’s Gospel.
6. Jesus relates a parable or story about a person who goes to a neighbor requesting help in feeding guests who had just shown up.
7. The neighbor in need does not give up easily despite the rejection from the neighbor.
8. Jesus then tells His disciples not to give up in their asking, seeking, and knocking–all referring to prayer, and the reason is that the Father gives the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him.
9. Students of the Scripture, over the centuries, have given a number of different, even conflicting, explanations for the final verse, verse 13. And we likely will as well.