Now Jesus was praying in a certain place, and when he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray, as John taught his disciples.”
What are the disciples asking for here? Are John’s prayer’s deficient? Did they hear Jesus praying and decide that he was improving on John? But in that case, why not just imitate what they heard?
Other questions: Why did John teach a prayer only to his disciples? Why was this not simply part of his public ministry?
The only answer that seems reasonable to me is that the disciples thought that having a unique prayer was a mark of discipleship. Those who followed John did so in part by praying the prayer he gave them. Now Jesus had disciples and they wanted the same.
The payoff here is that when we pray the Lord’s prayer we are identifying ourselves as Jesus disciples. Jesus has given us the prayer.We are reminded that we belong to Jesus and that he is our leader.
This would indicate, by the way, that the Lord’s Prayer is actually a written prayer. It is not a guide for how to pray (though it could serve in that way too) but an actual rote liturgy.