Praying Outside the Lines

Coloring-with-Audacity1When I was a little kid in elementary school I thought it would be funny to play a prank on the teacher. I decided to put sticky tape on the her chair so that it would stick to her bottom. Influenced by my friends, I boldly crawled out of my desk and snuck across the floor while the teacher was writing on the board. I strategically placed the tape on her chair and crawled back to my desk before she turned around. It was a bold thing to do. She could have turned at any moment and caught me crawling across the floor. If I had been caught…who knows what would have happened.

For the past couple of weeks I have been exploring the idea of being bold in prayer. I believe scripture authorizes us to daringly speak to God in open and honest conversation. This is easier said than done. Most of us are either afraid to talk to God like this in fear of how he might react, or we have convinced ourselves we really are talking to God honestly when in fact we aren’t.

Shameless Audacity

In Luke chapter 11 the disciples ask Jesus for a lesson in prayer. Jesus responds with the beautiful example of The Lord’s Prayer. Then in typical Jesus fashion, he begins telling a story.

Then Jesus said to them, “Suppose you have a friend, and you go to him at midnight and say, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves of bread;  a friend of mine on a journey has come to me, and I have no food to offer him.’  And suppose the one inside answers, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is already locked, and my children and I are in bed. I can’t get up and give you anything.’  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 11:5-8)

It is an interesting story. In a lesson about praying Jesus compares God to a friend asleep in his bed, and us to a bold beggar in the middle of the night. He effectively says God will answer your prayer, not because he is your friend, but because of how daring you are in asking.

The phrase Jesus uses is “shameless audacity.”

A nice little metaphor

When I watch my three year old color, I have noticed she often picks the wrong color and draws outside of the lines. I mean, who has ever seen a Disney Princess with a blue face? As she matures she will learn to pick the right colors and stay in the lines. At least I hope so. I once heard a person relate prayer in the same way. When we are young and first learning to pray we don’t know what to ask for or how to ask it. As we mature, we learn the right things to ask how to stay in the lines of God’s will.

This seems like a nice little metaphor to help us pray in a way God finds acceptable. The question I have is this:

How would you color with audacity?

You certainly wouldn’t stay in the lines, and you wouldn’t pick “appropriate” colors. My three year old is unashamed and bold in her blue faced princess coloring. She will often bring me a picture she has colored and say “look at my picture Daddy, isn’t it pretty?” I usually look at the odd colored princess with huge gashes of color not even close to being inside the lines and proclaim “Yes Honey, this is the most beautiful picture you have ever colored! I really like how colorful it is!”The boldness of my daughter makes me wonder, what it means to pray with audacity unashamed?

Could Jesus be telling us to go ahead and have the nerve to tell Him what we really want? To stop worrying about how He might react, or what He might do. To stop qualifying our prayers with cliche statements like “if it’s your will” or “not what I want but what you want.”

This passage challenges everything we teach about prayer. It scares us in ways we are afraid to admit. It is, by very definition, shamelessly audacious.

What would happen if we started praying without holding anything back? And how do we break the bonds of learned, repetitious prayer?

What do you think? Please comment below.


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Do You Talk to God With That Mouth?
What Does It Mean To Commune With God?

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Photo Credit: Curtis Perry, Flickr

Posted on by Steven Smith in Struggles Leave a comment

About the author

Steven Smith

Steven enjoys sharing God's Word through speaking, teaching, and writing. He currently serves as the Youth Minister at Fairmont Park Church of Christ in Midland, Texas, and has been working in the church since 2001. He is married to his beautiful bride Celeste Smith and they have two wonderful daughters. In his spare time Steven enjoys spending time with his family, Skiing, Backpacking, Hiking, Paddling, and Camping.

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