8 I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs. 9 And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. (Luke 11:8-9)
A good teacher illustrates abstract concepts with concrete illustrations. And Jesus, the greatest teacher who ever lived, is the master of this. In Luke 11, His disciples ask Him to teach them how to pray.
Prayer is a tough, abstract concept. So Jesus illustrates it by saying, “You should approach God like an obnoxious neighbor” (11:5-8). Then, “You should approach God like a powerless widow” (Luke 18:1-7).
Sometimes we struggle to understand these examples because we think Jesus is comparing God to an annoyed homeowner in the first one and an unrighteousness judge in the second. But notice how Jesus ends the teaching in 11:13: “If you, being evil… how much more will my Heavenly Father…” These are parables of contrast, not of comparison. We aren’t supposed to compare the Heavenly Father to an annoyed neighbor, we are supposed to contrast Him to one.
I love the phrase in verse 8: in the ESV, it reads, “Because of [the neighbor’s] impudence, he [the homeowner] will rise and give him whatever he needs.” The word “impudence” is also translated “shameless audacity,” “shamelessness,” “shameless boldness,” and “persistence.” It’s the Greek word anaideia, and it literally means without shame or honor.
Far from being a negative descriptor, let’s take a minute to meditate on what a gift it is to be able to approach our Heavenly Father without shame! We are told in Romans 8:1 that “there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” And Psalm 34:5 says that “those who look to Him are radiant, and their faces are never covered with shame.”
When my sons were younger, they had no shame when they asked me for things. Especially when we were passing the toy department at Target, or the kids cereal aisle at the grocery store. “I want that.” “Can I have that?” I’m sorry to say, they learned shame from me. I taught them to be ashamed of themselves for asking for so much. “Be content with what you have,” I would scold. “You haven’t finished the last cereal I bought for you.” “You have a closet full of toys you never play with.”
Sad to say, our children learn shame from their earthly fathers. So part of learning how to pray is unlearning what we think we know about our Heavenly Father. We can approach the throne of Grace with confidence, knowing that we will receive mercy and find grace (Hebrews 4:16).
Beloved, be shameless when you approach the Father today. He is waiting with open hands.
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