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 11:8
“Prayer is not about changing God, but being willing to let God change you.” This quote from Father Richard Rohr caught my attention as I read through his newest book, Yes, And…Daily Meditations. I have been thinking about prayer lately and what happens when we pray. Truly, prayer is a mystery. It has been observed that the majority of people throughout history and nearly every religion has some form of prayer, yet what we should pray and how to pray is a mystery. I can relate to the frustrated Saul who sought out a medium because God was silent (1 Samuel 28) and the honest question of the disciples as they observe Jesus in prayer, “Lord teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).
Jesus answers their question, but what caught my attention was the “how” Jesus told them to pray. He told them a story that we now call, “The Friend at Midnight.” It is a story of a man who asks a neighbor for bread really late at night because another friend has just arrived in town. And without Taco Bell and iHop, the only option to feed this famished traveler is to ask a neighbor for some bread. Of course it’s incredibly inconvenient for the one who has gone to bed, but the persistent man does not stop asking until the neighbor gets up to meet the request. Jesus says that’s how we should pray.
This brings up the obvious question: is Jesus saying that we have to keep bugging God until God answers our prayers? Generally, when we read one of Jesus’ parables we try to determine which character represents God and which character represents us in the story, but this parable is different. In this story, Jesus wants us to see the conclusion: we are to pray with shameless audacity, not to get what we want, but because prayer changes us.
Prayer will stay a mystery if becomes about how we can get what we want from God. Jesus invites us to see that prayer is about our relationship to God. When we pray, our heart begins to transform and reflect the heart of God. We begin to see ourselves, others and the world the way that God sees them. We should pray with shameless audacity, never giving up, because God is molding us into people who live by faith, love and hope. Today, I encourage you to pray for whatever is on your heart. Pray for it with shameless audacity and know that God is meeting you in your prayers.
Rev. Chad McSwain