Stephen Morris urges us to fervent prayer for 2016
I have to confess that, generally speaking, I stick to the old, 1980s version of the New International Version of the Bible. I’m not always sure about the newer revisions of it. Which explains why, when I read Luke 11 in a newer version recently (I admit it: I was too lazy to look for my Bible and resorted to my phone!), I was surprised to see Jesus imploring us to pray with ‘shameless audacity’.
Luke 11 is possibly the most significant passage about prayer in the bible. Not only does Jesus give us that timeless template for our praying that we know as ‘The Lord’s Prayer’, he then goes on to give a parable to explain what our prayer should be like and how our Father responds to it. He tells us that a father’s love would never give a child something harmful in response to a request. We learn that God answers us when we are persistent and that the answers to our prayers will be right and will not harm us: in other words, we can trust God.
The older version of the NIV translates the way we should pray as being with ‘boldness’, or with ‘persistence’. But ‘shameless audacity’ gives this passage a real freshness. As British people, we’re not keen on ‘audacity’, and, well, really, ‘shameless audacity’ is beyond the pale! We can often pray as if we are exercising that ultimate symbol of British audacity, knocking on a neighbour’s door to ask if we might possibly borrow a cup of sugar. Not that I actually know anyone who has ventured even that far in being audacious in real life!
God is wanting to move our church on into a new era. It won’t happen without fervent prayer: prayer is vital to ensuring we have a two-way relationship with God, that we know what His heart is for us and that we can receive power from the Holy Spirit, without which we will be pretty ineffectual. Brothers and sisters, God has called us to be His hands and His feet on earth and to be His means of enabling His kingdom to grow. Perhaps it’s audacious even to think in those terms, but we know it is entirely by God’s enabling that we can do and be these things. We are just an ordinary group of people with an extraordinary God.
So let’s be bold and let’s persist in prayer: and let’s be shamelessly audacious in asking God for big things. Jesus goes on in Luke 11 to say:
‘Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.’
He won’t ignore our audacious requests, and rather than asking God timidly if He wouldn't mind just answering our humble prayer, let’s obey Jesus’ word and march in boldly, asking Him to do big things in our lives and in our church in 2016.