[vc_row fullwidth="false" attached="false" padding="0" visibility="" animation=""][vc_column border_color="" visibility="" width="1/1"][vc_column_text disable_pattern="true" align="left" margin_bottom="0"]The house is quiet, except for the 145 year old spruce boards that squeak with each step I climb. It’s late and I should be in bed, but my mind doesn’t always agree with me. There are things to be said, thoughts to be wrestled. Sleep would be practical, but my heart isn’t ready. Not yet. I peak into their rooms. Just like I did when they were babies. I used to kneel down, eye level with their small bodies, watching their tiny lungs expand and contract. Leaning in, I would wait to feel their sweet breath on my cheek. They aren't so little anymore, but I still look for the familiar rise and fall.
Good. Still breathing.
Silly to think they wouldn’t be, but I’m a Dad and sometimes we think crazy things .
Abigail, perfectly still, in almost the same position when I tucked her in hours before. Caleb, sprawled East and West, blankets and pillows twisted and thrown by his tornado movements. How does he sleep like that? Maia, up there (bunk bed), out of reach and swallowed in a down comforter (a bit how it feels to relate with this beautiful 15 year old). All is as it should be, but I’m restless.
I stand in the middle of the hallway, place my hands on the walls to their rooms and speak simple words into the night.
Jesus, if you don’t do this in their hearts, it won’t happen. I'm counting on you. This is what you do. It's who you are.
I’m not on my knees. I’m not praying loud or repetitively (that would wake everyone up). No vision or angelic visitation to compel me. Not taking a long time or using complicated “spiritual language”.
Just me. Tired. Hopeful. Desperate.
If I were to grade my prayer life, I would give myself a D+. But that's when I'm giving in to the legalistic voices that I have given free rent in my head for years. They say things like: You're not praying long enough. You're too focused on yourself. If you just prayed for the things that were on God's heart.
Those religious voices have verses (oh, they always have verses!) to back up their claims. One which has been used and overused tells the story of a man who came knocking on the door at midnight for bread to feed a guest in his house. In Luke 11:5-8, the late night bread seeker beat on a friend's door until the dude got up (after a couple of weird excuses) and finally gave it to him.
The usual application? Persist in knocking on God's door long enough and hard enough (through prayer) and eventually He will answer. Hopefully, that answer will be in your favor.
What a dreadful thought. If you put in enough work, He might give it to you.
If there's one thing I hate, it's when a teacher or pastor tells someone that a text is so deep and complicated that it would take hours to adequately preach through. Ugh. This is going to be a long one. Where's the pot roast? It's annoying and it puts unnecessary shackles on the Bible and the Gospel, which should be able to be embraced by your kids with simple faith.
But there are times when our translations send us in the wrong direction. Words that should mean one thing have been lost because our cultures were/are so different. Somewhere between the Eastern peasant listening around a campfire and our Western, cappuccino small group Bible study, we have missed something.
I am so thankful for Gary Burge, my New Testament professor at Wheaton, for introducing me to Kenneth Bailey. The stuff he puts out is by no means a fun read, but the end result is pure gold - especially for the tired guy standing in the hallway hoping his prayers might do something.
The way the story reads, it makes you think it's the guy at the door who is bold and persistent. What we miss is that the word used for boldness/persistence is really shamelessness (also translated "impudence") and it applies to the guy who is sleeping, not the guy at the door.
What's at stake if he, the sleeper, doesn’t get up and answer? The reputation of their whole village. If he doesn't help his friend show hospitality to the stranger, he could bring shame onto the whole village. Maybe not something we think about, but for an Eastern thinking person it is huge.
Because of his need to bring honor to the village, to "save face" and not bring shame on their reputation, he will get up and give the guy some bread. It actually says that he will give him whatever he needs (Luke 11:8).
Why is this cool? Because Jesus was trying to make clear that your Father in heaven will honor his name at all costs. He will not bring shame on himself. He will uphold his character and answer you, not because you beat on the door with persistence or eloquence, but because He is good, kind, loving, and honorable. He won't answer because you are praying incessantly, but because of his character and good name.
Are my prayers good enough? Can I cause my kids to fall in love with Jesus? Probably not. But He is… good enough. His heart for them, his plans for them… good enough.
Romans 8:26-27 even tells us that Jesus is praying for us, filling the void of our D+ prayers with beautiful things that we have neglected to ask.
I eventually leave the hallway and climb into bed. My simple prayers continue as I wait for sleep to come. Somewhere between the heaviness of my eyes and the goodness of Jesus, I finally rest.
My hope (and prayer) is that you will do the same.[/vc_column_text][mk_icon_box2 icon_type="icon" icon_size="64" icon="mk-li-paper-plane" icon_color="#02b3ff" title="Follow Chad's Blog and never miss a post." title_size="24" title_weight="inherit" title_top_padding="10" title_bottom_padding="10" align="center"]