I am not a good pray-er, by which I mean, I wrestle with meaningfully and consistently approaching God to talk. Funny: I have no problem talking to anyone who will listen… except for God. In fact, I discussed my prayer struggles in a recent post.
In the last few years, I found myself ignoring today’s Luke passage about prayer. I mean, how obnoxious is it to keep bugging God for something when in His sovereignty, He has it all worked out. After all, doesn’t nagging prayer reveal an un-trusting heart to some degree? Express your needs once, I say, then trust God to do the right and best thing.
In this passage, however, Jesus gives me permission to bother him, even to display impudence in my prayers. Hm.
Here are some of my observations about Luke 11: 5-11:
- I recently discovered that the Lord’s Prayer (quoted earlier in Luke 11) includes mostly spiritual requests (e.g., praise God, forgive sins, avoid temptation) and one physical request (daily bread – since one has to live in order to be spiritual). How did I miss that? I really have a problem with the laundry list of prayers that seem selfish and self-indulgent. Are we praying to Santa Jesus? It’s interesting to note therefore, that Jesus’ illustration is a man requesting bread for a friend, not for himself. I can swallow nagging prayer for others’ earthly needs more than for my own.
- The guy seeking bread keeps knocking on his friend’s door, even after he is turned away the first time. Jesus says, however, that “though [the friend] will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudencehe will rise and give him whatever he needs” (vs. 8 ESV). I like the idea of “impudent” prayer. That Greek word is used only once in the NT and means “lack of sensitivity to what is proper.” (Thanks again, ESV Study Bible). It’s also translated “shameless audacity” (NIV – another good phrase!), “importunity” (KJV), “persistence” (NASB), and “shamelessness” (NASB notes) . I must say, I am partial to “impudence.”
- There’s this progression in the passage, from the least to the greatest. A friend will answer impudent knocking. A parent will not be so nasty as to give a scorpion to the child that asks for an egg. Therefore, the heavenly Father (greater than friend or earthly parent) will obviously answer our prayers (even before we become impudent) and do so with good things.
- I don’t think the passage tells us to beg God for things with “shameless audacity.” It implies God will do better than the man’s friend, so we may not need to go so far – banging on the door and all that. Yet Jesus does say to Ask, Seek, and Knock. Three different forms of prayer do indicate (to me) a bit of shameless repetition.
- God will Give, help us Find, and Open Doors in response to our prayers. He will answer (and of course, we know that it won’t always be the answer we want).
- I don’t ever think I noticed this phrase of Jesus:
…how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him! vs. 13b (ESV)
Is that what all the impudence is about? Are we Asking, Seeking and Knocking for the Holy Spirit? Is that it? If so, that’s right in line with the Lord’s Prayer focus and my aversion to prayers that focus primarily on material and earthly needs.
I can do that. I can be impudent about asking to grow closer to Jesus, seeking more of the Holy Spirit, entering into a closer relationship with the Father. That’s exactly what I want to be shameless about.
And, thank God, He will not send me a scorpion instead!
Today’s Readings: Joshua 13:1-14:15, Psalm 44:20-26, Proverbs 14:3, Luke 11:1-28. See About for what I’m up to with these daily posts. Your daily blogger, Holiday Longing (Reproduce with permission only).