“One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, “Lord, teach us to pray…” (Luke 11:1).
He first gave the “The Lord’s Prayer.” Then He told a story about a man caught by surprise with a late-night visitor. Middle Eastern hospitality dictated his desperation, and he woke up his friend with an urgent request for bread.
He received four clear “no’s,” but he doesn’t go away. Listen, we’re already ashamed to wake the guy at midnight. I would have left after the first, “Don’t bother me.” Still he stuck around—and got three more harsh negatives: “The door is already locked.” Does that sound like a “yes?” Then he says, “My children are with me in bed.” What happens if he gets up? I’ve put many a crying child to sleep late at night, then sneak out the door quietly, bump a chair, and the chorus returns in full volume. He is put off by his brash friend.
The final “no” would appear to shut him down for good: “I can’t get up and give you anything.” But the man doesn’t leave. And Jesus says, “I tell you, though he will not get up and give him the bread because he is his friend, yet because of the man’s boldness he will get up and give him as much as he needs” (8). The word “boldness” is translated “importunity” in the RSV. The dictionary calls it “troublesome, annoying urging or demanding.” The ESV uses the word “impudence.” It means “rashness without thought of the consequences.” Not a polite word.
It is used once in the Old Testament (Greek Septuagint) for a prostitute who finds a victim late at night, “kisses him, and with impudent face she says to him…’Come, let us take our fill of love till morning…’” (Prov. 7:13). Hardly a complimentary expression!
That is what Jesus used for the brash intruder, and Jesus encourages us to pray like that. The situation called for a different kind of boldness, not polite but pushy.
We see this with the Canaanite woman who encountered Jesus (Matt. 15). She also received four clear no’s: first, the silence of Jesus, then the complaint of the disciples, then the words of Jesus about only being called to Israel, then an apparent insult from Jesus. She persisted, and Jesus healed her daughter at that instant.
Passivity kills. Brazen importunity gets heaven’s attention. Examples in recent history: Two sisters, Peggy and Christine (84 and 82) in the Hebrides Islands (1949) whose prayer brought down a mighty revival, and a group of students at Asbury College (1969,70), whose united prayer did the same.
Sometimes revival comes because the heart of God calls for it, like at Nineveh. It is unlikely that Israel was praying for Nineveh, or than that God would destroy it. But God prefers to save rather than to condemn (John 3:17). At other times, revival comes because God anoints people to pray. Extraordinary need calls for extraordinary prayer to release an extraordinary visitation from God. Let us get in God’s face until He pours out His Spirit in our city, our land, our world!!