I call to you, Lord, come quickly to me; hear me when I call to you. May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:1-2 (NIV)
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.
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. Luke 11:5-10 (NIV)
It is true that when we pray we are approaching Almighty God. We should address Him bearing that in mind. Fear of the Lord (“fear” meaning reverent respect) is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10) This is why it is good for us to know a few things that Scripture teaches us about prayer.
Prayer is meant to be bold. Do we really believe in the power of the One we pray to? If we do, then why do we pray as if we are begging for scraps, as if God is only willing to give His leftovers?
God gives us the privilege of calling him Father (the word Jesus uses, “Abba,” is more accurately translated to the more intimate English word, “Daddy,”) and He invites us to include Him in our whole lives- the good, the bad and the ugly. God knows our needs more intimately than we do. Prayer is more than anything a way for us to come closer to God. God does not want us to show Him a sanitized PG13 compartment of our lives. God wants our whole heart, our whole life.
While one can debate the theological position of whether or not God changes His mind, (perhaps it is more correct to suppose that He changes our minds,) Jesus entreats us to pray boldly- with shameless audacity. We should pray with complete surrender, and complete openness.
In other words, pray as though we have no boundaries and nothing left to lose.
In some traditions bold prayer is frowned upon, as though one can only approach God with nothing more than sweet platitudes and rote prayers. Those prayers have their place, but so do the prayers that come from the deepest, darkest gut wrenching depths of sorrow, desperation and yes, even anger.
When Jesus prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane it was said He sweat blood, His prayer was so passionate and heartfelt.
If we believe God is Who He says He is, we can surrender everything and anything to Him. He is big enough to handle our anger, our rage, our passion and all of those charged emotions we don’t like to deal with. If we look at Jesus as a Precious Moments figurine or as a sanitized ethereal being (aka Wayne Newton in a white robe?) we miss His humanity, we miss His power, we miss His earthiness, we miss His sovereignty. We miss the opportunity for Him to come to us in our human weakness, in our surrender and brokenness, so that He can make us whole again.
Jesus tells us to keep banging on the door, to make ourselves pests. Ask! Look! Keep knocking until the door opens. Keep asking, until our wills align with God’s will.