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Gospel according to Luke 11: 1-10 (NIV)
1 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.”
2 He said to them, “When you pray, say:
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come.
3 Give us each day our daily bread.
4 Forgive us our sins,
for we also forgive everyone who sins against us.
And lead us not into temptation.’”
5 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; 6 a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’ 7 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.” 8 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.
9 “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. 10 For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.”
Some NIV translations in verse 8 use either “boldness” or “persistence” where “shameless audacity” appears, presumably used here to add emphasis to the extent of the “boldness” which Jesus commended to his disciples. What does “shameless audacity” mean to you? Can you imagine a request to God which you and other Christian people would regard as “shamelessly audacious”?
Would the request of the Gentile Centurion, a commander in the loathed Roman force of occupation referred to by Luke in 7:3, that Jesus “come and heal his servant” have been “shamelessly audacious”? In Acts 10 Luke described the request (admittedly not to God) from Cornelius, another Gentile Centurion but this time in Caesarea, that the leader of the Apostles, Simon Peter, should walk a two-day journey and enter this Roman’s house. Is this another “shamelessly audacious” request?
How bold are you in your prayers “to the Father, through the Son, in the Holy Spirit”? How much do you persevere with supplications and petitions and intercessions which, it might seem, God has been ignoring?
Few if any are able to see into the mind of God. We do not know the divine purpose associated with a prayer that seems to go unheard or unanswered. We find some pointers in Scripture; in relation to God’s overarching purposes, the book of Job can be a source of comfort. In Luke 11, Jesus has urged that we continue to ask, we continue to seek, we continue to knock at God’s door. We have to show a patience that is perhaps uncommon for the ordinary human mind. Human minds tend to regard time in terms of the span of a human life rather than from the eternal perspective of God.
Perseverance in prayer, rejecting the temptation to voice frustration or impatience or simply to give up, is what Jesus calls for. God answers sincere prayer in his good time which may be very different from any timetable we set.
Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18)