McFarland

Wednesday Meditation by Pastor Tim

Light a candle

Read Luke 11:5-13

Parable of Banging on Doors at Midnight

Jesus offers this parable in the context of his disciples asking how to pray (11:1-4). The punchline comes in verse 8, when Jesus says that a man will get out of bed at midnight—not because of friendship—but because of the “persistence” of the man banging on his door. He doesn’t stop pounding the door to ask for loaves of bread!

But “persistence” may not be the best translation of this word. I learned from David Lose that the word is better translated “shameless.” Shameless—that’s not a word we usually associate with prayer. “Shameless” here means putting it all on the line; praying to God is to be bold, audacious and unfailingly confident. (David Lose blog, “in the meantime,” 7-19-16)

I don’t know about you, but some days I don’t even know where to begin to pray. There are so many needs, so much brokenness and hurt. Do I pray for the front-line medical workers swamped by Covid cases? Do I pray for those who are isolated from support systems because they have Covid? Do I pray for those experiencing depression or other mental health illnesses during this pandemic? Do I pray through the headlines on the news? Do I pray as I scroll down on my Facebook newsfeed? Do I pray for our nation and institutions to honestly wrestle with racial injustice as we witness black and brown lives being taken from us?

Sometimes it is overwhelming to think about how to pray.

Yet this parable gives us less of the “how”—and more of the “why.” Prayer is being shameless before God—bold, audacious and confident (which literally means “with faith,” by the way). When we are overwhelmed with the needs of the world, we can confidently bring everything to God. Prayer is active: we bring ourselves and the needs of the world to God, in trust that God hears and acts like a loving parent toward a child (11:13).

At times, prayer may be speaking words for a friend in need. Prayer may be thanking God for a doctor or nurse or therapist who has brought healing to our lives. Prayer may also be bolding advocating on-line for a refugee or someone who is hungry. Shameless prayer is not only words, but actions that show we are confident in God’s care and love for the world.

The “why” of prayer is confidence—bold trust—that the God who came in Jesus understands our hurts and disappointments, and indeed suffers with us. The “why” of prayer points us to the cross, and beyond the cross, knowing that death is not the last word with the God who will make us and this whole creation new. Praying is to live in bold, audacious and confident ways.

So when we feel overwhelmed, this parable gets us moving—to bang doors for bread, to open locks for the excluded, to offer compassion for the hurting, to boldly seek justice and reconciliation for those who lack freedom. It doesn’t matter where we start to pray; what matters is that we persist and trust that God hears and provides what we need.

In other words, pray shamelessly! Try it out!

Study Questions

1) In your faith life, what do the words “bold, audacious and unfailingly confident” bring to mind? In what ways are you “shameless” about trusting in God?

2) What does praying look and feel like to you in this time of great need and anxiety across the world? How can your prayers become more active?

3) Where do you hear God’s voice speaking to you? Where do you experience God listening to you?

 

Prayer

Gracious and Life-Giving God, you teach us that we can boldly and shamelessly pray to you. Strengthen our trust in your loving care for the needs of ourselves and the world. Inspire us to prayer that takes the shape of actions for the safety, well-being and good of our neighbors. Into your hands we place ourselves this day, trusting that you will make everything new; through Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life. Amen.