How To Pray - It Requires a Humble Boldness

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Wednesday, August 20, 2014 0 comments

by Logan Ames

Just a few weeks ago, we wrote blogs on the topic of humility and it made me think of a critical time in my life. I remember when I was going through some tough circumstances about 5 years ago that were partially due to my own mistakes and partially due to untrue things others were saying about me. This combination led to the end of a long-term relationship and the loss of my job and left me without an opportunity to defend myself. As I struggled through this time and recognized my own sin issues, my former pastor encouraged me with 1 Peter 5:6, which says, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time”. He then told me that, as I take time to allow God to change me and let go of what others think of me, God would give me a humble boldness to go forward serving him and leave the rest behind.

Thinking of that phrase that my pastor used made me think about how we are supposed to approach prayer. I used the phrase “supposed to” even with the disclaimer that I don’t believe there are “rules” surrounding prayer. It is conversation with the Creator of the universe and if you read Psalms and other places in the Bible you see that God allows us to be bold as long as we remain humble when addressing him, questioning him, or asking for help.

Look at Jesus’ teaching on prayer as part of the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:5-15. First, he tells them to be different from the “hypocrites”, who love to pray openly in the synagogues and on street corners so they can show off for other human beings (v. 5). Who is he talking about there? I’d say he’s talking about the Pharisees and other Jews who claimed to be righteous but were more self-righteous and showy than anything else. They would have been the ones in the synagogues. Jesus teaches that any sincere follower must pray in a way that is not for show in front of men but humble before the Lord. After that, he tells those listening that they should also be different from the “pagans,” who babble and repeat themselves because they believe they are more likely to be heard (v. 7). Jesus tells them that God already knows what they need so there is no reason to keep telling him (v. 8). What follows is known as the Lord’s Prayer in verses 9-13. Unfortunately, the prayer has become something that churches and other organizations repeat as a sort of ritual. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to pray it, but to believe those are the exact words Jesus wants us to say when we pray all the time would be incorrect. Verse 9 doesn’t begin with, “This, then, is what you should say”. It begins with, “This, then, is HOW you should pray” (caps mine).

I believe Jesus knew what he was teaching and was intentional about it. The words in the Lord’s Prayer are more of an attitude of our heart than anything else. They require neither the babbling of many words nor the listening ears of other mere humans. What they do include are both humility and boldness that should accompany every single time that we talk to God or hear from him. We must believe that God is OUR Father and not just MY Father. We must revere his very name and understand that he is in heaven while we are not. Humbly, we acknowledge that things are best when HIS will is done, not ours. Rather than asking for all the things we want, we simply ask for what we need for each day and trust that he is willing and able to provide it for us. Boldly, yet still humbly, we ask God to forgive us of our sins as we also forgive others and to keep us from being overcome by temptation and evil. Humbly, we always remember that the kingdom, power, and glory belong to God and God alone.

Jesus ends the teaching by telling those listening that their sins will only be forgiven if they forgive others (vv. 14-15). This also requires humility. While we may not want to forgive others for how they’ve harmed us, we humbly accept that God is the authority and that we don’t get to hold others to a standard that we don’t apply to ourselves.

Praying also requires us to believe that God will give us what we desperately need with absolutely no doubts. Read James 1:5-8 on your own. This requires both humility and boldness. If you have tried to get what you need on your own and failed, it’s time to humbly accept that only God can give it to you and boldly believe by faith that he will. If you doubt the very ability of God to meet your need or doubt your own prayer, Scripture is clear that you “should not think you will receive anything from the Lord” (v. 7).

Finally, boldness is expressed in the very ability and willingness to pray. Check out Hebrews 4:14-16. The writer is telling us that, because Christ was tempted in all the ways that we are and defeated them without sinning, and because we sinners are justified in the presence of God by the blood he shed for us as our high priest, we can “approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need” (v. 16). According to the Old Testament laws, human beings could not directly approach God because he is holy and we are sinners. Any human who tried was sure to die. But the picture painted in Hebrews is that we can boldly approach the throne that used to cause us to fear because Christ is standing there on our behalf.

This means that we have no need for a priest, pastor, or “mature Christian” to pray for us as if God is more likely to listen to them. It also means we have no reason to think that our sins are too awful for God to forgive, for such an attitude says that Christ’s sacrifice wasn’t enough. If any of these thoughts have passed through your mind before or still do today, please understand that Christ is enough. If you sincerely believe in his sacrifice, you can approach God humbly and boldly, even when those traits seem to be opposites of each other. Allow this revelation that is proclaimed throughout the New Testament to remove all doubt and shame that has been weighing you down. God already knows what you’ve done, he knows what Jesus did for you, and he knows what you still need. So go to him, and let him mold you to his will, which is always best!