So, let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” Hebrews 4:16
Bill Hybels stated, “Prayer is an unnatural activity. From birth, we have been learning self-reliance rules as we strain and struggle to achieve self-sufficiency. Prayer flies in the face of those deep-seated values. It is an assault on human autonomy, an indictment of independent living. To people in the fast lane, determined to make it on their own, prayer is an interruption.”
I believe in prayer. I know what the Bible teaches about prayer. I know the biblical stories that demonstrate the power of prayer. But if you were to chart my Christian life, there would be significant gaps where prayer has been missing in action. At times, prayer felt passive, as if I were not doing anything. My prayers were boring, mechanical, and lacking faith. Like many who have experienced the same struggles, I was not fond of this feeling. I wanted to pray with love not obligation.
The Gospel of Luke has a thought-provoking story about prayer that may change your approach to talking with God. Luke 11 opens with the most general, vague, non-descript statement. It merely says, “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place.” There must have been something very compelling and different about the way that Jesus prayed because, in the next verse, we find the disciples asking Jesus to teach them how to pray (we spoke about that prayer last newsletter).
Then to help us see the importance of continuing prayer, Luke 11: 5-8, Jesus tells the story of a man who has a friend show up for an unannounced visit. And the man has no food to offer his travelling friend. So, he goes to his neighbour, and even though it is midnight, he knocks on the door and asks for bread. The neighbour is irritated and initially refuses to get up and help. But the man at the door refused to give up and kept knocking and asking for help. Then, the punch line of the story comes in verse 8. “I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet he will surely get up and give you as much as you need because of your shameless audacity.”
God invites us to come to his door and bring our request with shameless audacity. That might sound a little presumptuous and irreverent, and maybe you’re thinking, “I thought we were supposed to approach God humbly.” There is a difference between coming to God boldly and coming to God arrogantly. That is very different from the way we pray, almost sheepishly; “God, if it’s your will and you have time, and it wouldn’t be too much trouble, will you, could you, maybe hear my prayer.” When you are desperate and have a genuine need (like the man in the story), you don’t worry about protocol or policy. You shouldn’t care about image or what people will think.
God is not a grumpy neighbour who doesn’t want to be disturbed. He is a gracious Father who delights in responding to His children. The next time you pray, don’t be afraid to knock on heaven’s door and, with shameless audacity, bring your desires and deepest longings to your Heavenly Father.