My son and I snuggled on his bed in his darkened room, the light from his nightlight casting long shadows on the wall. “Dear Lord Jesus, thank you for my son and the gift he is to our family.” As we cuddle, we say “thank you” for the good things that happened that day and we ask God for the things we need. “Lord please help us,” is a frequent theme. “Guide me. Show me your way. Help me lead my family.”
“Does God ever get tired of us asking for so much,” my son queried during a particularly long list of “help us” requests.
I wish I could tell you that I had an eloquent and theologically profound yet age appropriate explanation about the power of prayer and God’s loving character to his children. Unfortunately, my mind doesn’t work that way. So I gave the next best response: “I’ll get back to you on that.”
That nighttime conversation took place around the same time that I saw “Bold” written on a piece of paper in my mind’s eye as I drifted to sleep. I attributed a pretty direct interpretation for that word initially. (You can read about that in Part One.) It seemed clear that I should be bolder with sharing my faith, talking about what God has done. But I did a little research and not only did I get the perfect answer for my son’s concern that God will get tired of us asking, asking, asking, I also got a directive.
Looking at the concordance at the back of my Bible, my eye was drawn down the list of “bold” references. The first verse I turned to was a familiar prayer in Luke 11.
“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’
“He said to them, ‘When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
Give us each day our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’” (Luke 11:1-4)
For those of us who grew up in church or attend church regularly, this is a familiar prayer. In a lot of churches, a version of this prayer, The Lord’s Prayer, is recited every week during Sunday services.
As I continued reading, my mouth gaped open at what came next.
“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)
In my older NIV translation, “shameless audacity” is translated “boldness.” Jesus tells us this friend doesn’t get up because of friendship but because of the persistence and boldness of the request. Clearly the guy needing the bread doesn’t go away at the first “No.” But keeps banging on the door until his persistence becomes more uncomfortable than getting out of bed and giving what he wants.
In various times during my travels through my own valley of the shadow of death the last couple of years, I have gotten encouragement from various Bible verses to “wait,” “hope,” and “trust.” And now God seems to be telling me: be persistent. Be bold. While I’m waiting, hoping, and trusting God’s promises, keep asking him to fulfill those promises.
This passage illustrates for me that God gives us gifts, not because we wait patiently, but because we have the shameless audacity, the boldness to come knocking on the door.
“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 the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Luke 11:9-10)
I think I sometimes make this prayer thing more complicated than it needs to be. Do you ever do that? I mean, I want to pray for the things God wants to give me. At the same time I don’t want to confuse God with Santa nor get caught in the gimme, bless me prayer cycle. But, Jesus is telling us we need to ask. It reminds me of “The Chronicles of Narnia” in “The Magician’s Nephew” written by C.S. Lewis when one of the characters asks about Aslan, the Jesus figure in the books, “Wouldn’t he know without being asked?” The reply coming from a horse reiterates this passage in Luke. “’I’ve no doubt he would,’ said the Horse (still with his mouth full). ‘But I’ve sort of an idea he likes to be asked.’”
God knows what we need and he promises to give it to us. But he wants us to ask. As a Christian I choose to believe the Bible is God’s word, it’s how he speaks to us. What God says in his word is relevant. Reading the Bible, we learn about God and his love for us. He considers us his children.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11: 11-13)
As my journey through my dark valley drags on, sometimes looking up, other times astonishing me with the pain, loss, and loneliness I can still experience, God’s instruction to me to be “Bold” reminds me that God is faithful. Never changing. “God is not human, that he should lie, not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” (Numbers 23:19)
Does God get tired of us asking for so much? No, my son. The opposite is true. God wants us to ask him for what we need. And when we ask boldly, with shameless audacity, he will give us what we need. He will give us what he promises us.