I was pretty stoked to have this chapter assigned to me. Honestly when I saw the chapter titles it was one I was looking forward most to reading.
Prayer. The Bible tells us it’s one of the single most important things in life we can do. It’s how we directly communicate with God. But for some reason prayer seems to the one thing that eludes us the most, and oftentimes becomes a mundane and difficult task.
Sometimes people give up on prayer because they feel as if God isn’t listening. I’ve heard people say, God must have more important things to do than answer my prayers. Many people have asked me, Is there some trick to prayer? Is there a certain way to pray?
Well these questions are none that have become very different over time. And that’s exactly what this chapter touches on. Jesus’ own disciples approach him and ask Him to teach them how to pray. Now I applaud them for who they asked the question to. If you’re going to ask anyone to teach you how to pray, well it better be Jesus!
Jesus proceeds to answer their question by explaining what we know as the Lord’s Prayer. Which according to Jesus should serve as a model for how we pray. I’d love to talk more about this but I’ll save it for another blog. But I love the fact that Jesus touches us some vital points of prayer in ‘The Lord’s Prayer’.
But obviously the issue of prayer was something that was very important to Jesus. He wanted to make sure they got it. And I’m sure Jesus caught a glimpse of You and I …2,000 yrs into the future and wanted to make sure that We got it too!
So he went on to tell a story. By the way I love the title to this book because Jesus was a storyteller. The Bible from front to back is a story. And our lives are a story.
So Jesus tells a story about the friend who came at midnight. I have to admit when I started reading this chapter I have a feeling I knew what the basic flow was going to be. WOW was I ever wrong. I’ve heard many preacher’s speak on this parable, and mostly what comes out of their teaching is that this parable teaches us to be persistent in prayer.
The story Jesus tells is of a man who has a late night visitor. He gets up and goes to his neighbor’s house to borrow some food because he doesn’t have enough. When he knocks on his friends door to ask for the food, the friend tells him that he doesn’t want to be bothered. And then the scripture goes on to say that the man was ‘persistent’ in his request and he received what he needed.
So I have to say, for many years I always thought that perhaps God rewarded our persistent prayers. But Gary Burge offered up an extremely insightful alternative to what I believed for so many years.
The Greek word for persistence or boldness is ‘anaideia’. But the actual Greek translation of ‘anaideia’ is without shame. So the actual translation of the text is ‘Because of his lack of shame he will rise and give him whatever he needs.’
So this is how author Gary Burge translates that scripture according to the original Greek text…
“I tell you, the sleeping neighbor will not get up and give his friend the bread because they are friends. The neighbor will get up and give fresh bread because he is a man of honor, a man who will not bring shame to himself or his village.”
Suddenly this scripture takes on an ENTIRE new meaning. The confident request is not tied into the persistence of the man asking for bread, but rather the character of the man he is asking to help him. So prayer Jesus is saying is not about what we do, but about who God is.
I hope many of you as I was are sitting down reading this and your jaw is just wide open. It’s so simple but yet makes so much sense. We always seem to think it’s about us, when in reality it’s always about God. There is no trick to prayer, no ‘special’ way we need to pray. If anything we should spend time filling ourselves with God’s word and becoming more and more confident every day of who He is, and to come into a deeper understanding of his character every day.
I actually had some friends bring their daughter who is very sick into the hospital today. As I encouraged all of my friends to pray for this child I was reminded of a passage in the book of Exodus that says, I am the Lord who heals. That is the first example of this facet of God’s character. Healing isn’t just something he does, it’s who He is. He is Jehovah Rapha ‘The Lord who Heals’.
So as we pray, let us focus on the incredible love and goodness of our great God. If there is any ‘secret’ to prayer, the secret is that we must keep our focus on Him, on his love and goodness and we will watch life unfold for us in ways we never imagined possible.
About the author:
My name is Sean Wrench. I run a ministry in NY called LifePlace. Recently we have started a national youth homeless project called the Forsaken Generation Project. God deeply burdened our hearts to do this when we discovered over 1.6 million children sleep on the streets in our country on any given night. You can read more about what we do at @forsakengenor you can follow us on twitter: