The real significance of petitionary prayer is in our Lord’s life. Much of His prayer life is left unexplained by the Gospel writers, but we can detect a pattern in the circumstances that led Jesus to pray.
Jesus prayed before making major decisions. The only thing that could explain why He chose that ragtag bunch of nonentities – boastful, ignorant, slow to comprehend – was that He had prayed before choosing them.
He prayed when pressed beyond measure, when His day was unusually busy with many competing demands on His energies and attention.
He prayed in the great crises and turning points of His life, such as His baptism, transfiguration and crucifixion.
He prayed before and during unusual trials and temptations, the most vivid being Gethsemane. As the hour of evil descended, the way Jesus met it contrasted greatly with the way His disciples met it.