“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. 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.”
Luke 11:8-9 ESV
Through the Bible: Luke 11
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 in Luke 11, Jesus illustrates it by saying, “You should approach God like an obnoxious neighbor” (11:5-8). Later, in Luke 18, He will teach like we are to 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.
Pray With Impudence and Shamelessness… Really?
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.”
We forget that the pre-Fall state of humanity was shamelessness. Genesis 2:25. “Naked and unashamed” didn’t just describe how Adam and Eve felt about not having any clothes on. It also describes how Adam and Eve related to one another. And I believe it describes how they related to God. There were no barriers between themselves and their Heavenly Father. They were completely vulnerable, completely exposed, completely safe, and completely loved.
Today, we use the phrase “Have you no shame?” to shame people. That’s messed up. How I would have loved to hear the Genesis 2 Adam and Eve answer that question:
“Have you no shame?” the accuser would thunder.
“Of course not! We don’t even know what that is,” the children of the Garden would reply.
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.