This week I’d like for our discussion to be a little more reflective than usual, a little more devotional if you will. What I’d like us to consider is how to thankfully pray. We all know the old aphorism that “life is not about thanksgiving, it’s about thanksliving”. That is we should not be giving thanks at specific times but our entire attitude, our entire way of life should reflect our thankfulness to God for the great gifts he has given us. This was sort of the topic last week, that we should live, out of thankfulness to God, in such a way that others give thanks to God for what we have done.
But there are also times when specific, active thanks are in order. No other time is more fitting to give thanks than when we are at prayer. So the first question that comes to mind is when do we pray? This is another one like the thanksliving thing. Scripture is pretty clear that we are always to be prayerful. 1 Thessalonians 5:17 says, “pray without ceasing”. We are to pray in the ordinary moments of our lives as well as the extraordinary. But some times are more focused than others, sometimes our internal dialog with God is more overt, more intentional. What then, how are we to pray with thanksgiving?
αναιδειαν is the Greek word we are focusing on today, its usually transliterated as anaideia and pronounced an-ah’ee-die-ah. Thayer and the the NIV translate it as shamelessness or impudence, or even shameless impudence or audacity.
Americans today know about shamelessness, audacity and impudence. We see it in our politicians who lie to our faces; who say one thing and do another. In athletes who’s on field heroics are exceeded only by their lack of discipline off the field. In our entertainers who live lives of immorality that beggars the imagination and then have the temerity to lecture us on how we should live. Oh yes, we of all people should be able to recognize shamelessness when we see it.
So when Jesus tells us it should be our practice to act with shameless audacity, how do we respond? I think we are caught aback and, mostly, don’t know what to do.
We are looking at Luke 11:1-13. These are wildly famous verses, many of them well know in the culture at large and not just among Christians and they contain the heart of Jesus’ teaching on prayer. In context the verses start with Jesus praying and his disciples asking him to teach them to pray.
Implicit in that request, at least to me, is the request for Jesus to teach the disciples to pray as he does and with the results he gets. In response he gives us what is usually called the Lord’s prayer. I like Luke’s version. Its short, its emphatic, it is not quiet and imploring, it is intimate and familiar.