Teach Us To Pray 2 - With Shameless Audacity
Chan Gin Kai
Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread; a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’ I tell you, even though he will not get up and give you the bread because of friendship, yet because of your shameless audacity he will surely get up and give you as much as you need. (Luke 11:5-8)
Back in the days of Jesus, the houses of the common people were very small. Two or three generations of them may squeeze together in one room, with little privacy. If they had animals, the cows, sheep or goats would be in a separate room within the house. Or the family may sleep on a raised platform, with the animals below them. It would have been troublesome for a man to answer his friend’s request for a few loaves of bread. He would have to disturb the whole family and the animals just to help his friend.
But Jesus said that if the knocking were persistent enough, the man would do it. Even if he doesn’t do it out of friendship, he would do it just to get his friend to shut up. The “shameless audacity” of the persistent man would get to him.
Through the parable, Jesus presented a lesson on persistence in prayer. He contrasted a man who finds helping his friend troublesome, to a God who delights in helping us. If a man who didn’t care much about his friend would fulfil the friend's request just to get the friend off his back, how much more would a loving God do for us?
To our omnipotent God, inconvenience is not an issue. To our loving Father, willingness is not a worry. He is able, and He is willing. But are we persistent in prayer?
We need to learn to have “shameless audacity” in prayer.
We have a tendency to “censor” ourselves in prayer. There are requests we are afraid to put before God, and times we don’t dare to fully open up our heart to Him. Our fears become hindrances to our prayers.
Fear Of Being Unaccepted
Sometimes, we fear to approach God in prayer, as we feel unworthy. We may be trapped by feelings of guilt after we fall into sins, and we mistakenly believe that God will not hear us. We even misunderstand and misquote the Bible, thinking that our sins are big enough to make God ignore us.
Make no mistake; God hates our sins and He wants us to change. But we won’t ignore our spouse or kids just because they’ve done something wrong towards us. So why do we think God would do so? Do we imagine God to be pettier than us?
You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
Isn’t it a crazy contradiction if we believe Christ was willing to die for us while we were still sinners, but think God is not willing to listen to our prayers because we’ve sinned?
I can’t even remember a single day when I’ve not fallen into some form of sins. Does it mean then that all of my prayers and requests will never be accepted by God? Can you remember a day when you’ve not sinned? Our sins are not greater than God’s love. In fact, we should pray all the more when we fall into sins.
Let’s be ashamed of our sins, but be unashamed to pray.
Fear Of Being Unimportant
Sometimes, we fear that our requests are too trivial and not worth bothering God about. It is indeed true that everything we have is trivial compared to God. Our sufferings are trivial compared to what Jesus went through. Our problems are trivial compared to extinction events like climate change or global problems like a looming war. Our requests are trivial compared to God’s bigger plans to save humanity. But just because they’re trivial doesn’t mean that God doesn’t care.
A mother who is facing problems at work will worry about her toddler who has grazed his knee because her love for her child makes the trivial important to her. A doctor with a dying parent will still care for his patient’s flu because his responsibility makes the patient’s relatively smaller illness important to him.
If the trivial can become important to us despite our imperfect love and sense of responsibility, how much more will they matter to our God who loves perfectly? What matters to us matters to God; we are important in His eyes.
And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18)
Let’s be unashamed to bring “all kinds of prayers and requests” to God, even problems and needs we deem trivial.
Fear Of Being Disappointed
Sometimes, we fear disappointment and thus refuse to bring our requests before God. We are afraid that the more we pray, the more we will set our hopes up, and the greater our disappointment if our prayers go unanswered.
Yes, we will be disappointed sometimes. It is true that God will not answer some of our prayers. Ephesians 6:18, which we’ve already read above, says we should bring all our requests before God. But it didn’t promise that God would fulfil all of them. In fact, we should be thankful that God does not answer every single one of our requests. You can read more about that in my next article.
But we shouldn’t choose to fail before we’ve even started; and we mustn’t write God off before we’ve even tried. Let’s put our trust in God, and not allow our fear of disappointment to stop us from praying.
Let's be unashamed of disappointments and failures, but trust that whether God answers our prayers or not, He's got our interests at heart.
God is our Father, and He cares for us. He loves to listen to our prayers, and He longs to bless us. Let’s learn to put our fears aside and pray with “shameless audacity”.
Read more about 'Teach Us To Pray':
Chan Gin Kai
Gin Kai is a film producer who believes in the power of media to inspire positive changes. He has spearheaded disaster relief and capacity building projects in impoverished communities across Asia. In church, he serves as a mentor to young professionals in the EDGE Ministry. He describes himself as "just a sinner who wants to get right with God". Gin Kai joined the Central Christian Church in 1988.