We fret sometimes over what we called “unanswered” prayer—those things that we take to God but about which we do not seem to obtain any resolution. I recently came across a passage, however, that prompted me to think about the “unasked” prayers in my life.
In Luke’s Gospel, Jesus tells the parable about the host in desperate need who goes to his neighbor at night for help:
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, NIV)
Note that the neighbor responded favorably not because of their relationship or because of the persistence of the supplicant, but because of the “shameless audacity” he showed. What are the things that we hesitate to take to God and why do we hesitate? Perhaps we are reluctant because we lack the faith to think that God can handle it. Or it may be that the problem is the result of our own sin and rebellion, so if we take it to God, we have to admit our own failure. Or perhaps we are just too self-sufficient (or proud) to admit that we have exhausted all of the alternatives available to us.
I believe a teaching of the parable (if not THE teaching) is that to be really open and vulnerable before God, my prayer must be motivated by “shameless audacity.” God responds to our prayers not based on our merit, our style of prayer, or our great faith, but because we ask openly and even shamelessly. Like the writer of the Psalms, we are willing to expose our greatest fears, prejudices, and needs to God because God is always able to handle whatever we bring.
Is there an “unasked prayer’ in your heart today? What keeps you from taking it to God?