When you’ve learned all your life that the most spiritual form of prayer is the “If it be Thy will” type, the idea of being bold feels disrespectful. That’s the mindset I grew up with, and it’s the mindset of a large portion of the Christian world. Meanwhile, there’s another large portion of Christians who are naming and claiming blessings, proclaiming prophecies, getting emotionally fired up, but at the same time are being careless about submitting to God’s principles of holiness. One of the hardest things to teach is bold prayer, especially to those who are already saved. And as much as I preach it and try to live it out daily, the devil never stops trying to pull me off balance. Emotional discipline combined with spiritual audacity, are explosive ingredients for a faith with nuclear capabilities. But who really understands this balance?
It’s been hidden in the Bible for 2000 years, probably because Bible scholars have imagined that the literal translation was too extreme. The Lord’s Prayer—the model prayer that Jesus taught His disciples—was originally written in Greek, in the imperative form, which means it was written as commands. In other words, it sounded nothing like the mumbled religious ritual most of us are familiar with. It was a shocking prayer that called God Father, and treated Him as if He wanted a personal relationship with them. On top of that, they were to speak like ordinary children unashamedly asking, even demanding, that their dad provide what they needed. (Give me my daily bread!) It was not the typical prayer of a holy man, and probably was one more reason the Pharisees were enraged by Jesus.
Then right after teaching His model prayer, Jesus told them a story about a pesky neighbor who kept banging on his friend’s door in the middle of the night (Luke 11). The friend was woken up and irritated, but eventually handed over what he wanted. Jesus shocked them again by saying that this is exactly how we’re supposed to interact with God. Most Bible translations say, “I say to you, though he will not rise and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as much as he needs.” I’m not a professional Greek scholar, but I discovered that the original word used for persistence, is actually the word for shamelessness. Audacity! So because of his shamelessness, he got what he wanted, and we’re supposed to be shameless with God too!
Jesus was teaching at a time when all religious leaders were obsessed with acting superior, and humiliating those under them. Ordinary men who had a personal relationship with God and spoke to Him with shameless persistence undermined everything they stood for. It’s no surprise that audacious faith still offends religious people today. It’s so important to keep our eyes focused on Jesus and His teaching, and to resist the religious pressure to conform to manmade standards. When our relationship with God is real, personal, obedient, persistent and shamelessly bold, God is pleased. Prayer is meant to be answered. We are meant to love, know and obey Him, and we are supposed to insist, demand and insist again that He fulfill His promises until we see them!
I’ve been preaching this concept of faith for years, but I’m still working on developing this explosive spiritual balance. It’s a process that should never stop for any Christian. I’ve challenged myself to pray even more shamelessly than before in these last few weeks, and God’s already moved some stubborn mountains. If this is Jesus’ most basic teaching on prayer, anything less is unbelief and doubt. When we think our prayer life is just fine the way it is, we disrespect Him, and waste time holding back our answers to prayers. God will gladly answer, but building a Father and child relationship with us is His primary concern. What better way to be His child than to become shamelessly persistent?
For the sake of Zion I will not keep silent, and for the sake of Jerusalem I will not rest until her righteousness goes forth as brightness and her salvation as a lamp that burns… I have set watchmen on your walls, O Jerusalem, who shall never hold their peace day nor night. You who remind the Lord, do not keep silent; give Him no rest until He establishes and makes Jerusalem a glory in the earth. Isaiah 62:1, 6-7 MEV