You might be in denial, holding on to the last bits of summer sunshine, but fall is quickly approaching, and with it, the craziness of a new season. Fall is full of great things—from pumpkin patches to corn mazes to holidays—but it’s important to slow down and mindfully approach the season. Here are a few things you can do to live like Jesus this fall.

1. Help a neighbor with yard work

As the weather gets cooler and leaves start to fall, everyone with a yard is going to have some extra work to do. Fall yard work can take a lot of time and energy, and not everyone has the ability to get their yard ready for winter. Let’s step in and help out our neighbors. Doing so is kind, creates an opportunity for fellowship, and reminds us to take a deep breath and look outside of ourselves.

 2. Organize a clothing and food drive to benefit others

Many people don’t have proper clothing and food to keep them warm this winter, and if you have the time and know-how, maybe think about starting a drive to donate these necessary items to people who need them. Ask a local shelter what their biggest needs are and see how you can help. Taking care of the people in our cities is what Jesus did and what he asked us to do.

 3. Take a retreat from technology

As the fall comes in, life tends to get busy, and it’s easy to get swept up in everything new thrown at us. At this time, it’s especially important to stay focused on the things that matter, and this might mean taking a break from some of the things that don’t matter so much. Even Jesus rested and took breaks, taking time to refocus on God. We honor him when we do the same.

 4. Join a Bible study

With that autumn busyness, it’s easy to put our Bible reading on the backburner. Joining a Bible study is a great way to be held accountable to our commitment to the word of God and to being in fellowship with other believers.

5. Keep a prayer journal

God is constantly moving in our lives, and it’s important to be aware of these things. This fall, keep a prayer journal of praises and petitions and bring the focus back to the Lord. We might find ourselves more aware of how he is working in our lives and in the lives of those around us.

Living like Jesus is how we can share the gospel everywhere we go. This fall, we encourage you to live out your faith courageously.

 

The Twivanemubukene, We Come Out of Poverty, Cooperative was started in 2007 with 15 women who came together in order to fight poverty and share skills in handicrafts. These women, many who are widows, were neighbors and members of the same parish, and when they saw a problem, they decided to do something about it as a group. They are united by their faith and determination to bring positive change into their lives.

The artisans with Twivanemubukene specialize in weaving with banana tree and palm leaves. The banana tree leaves are stripped off the sides of the trees, which grow almost like onions, in layers. The leaves can be pulled off without damaging the plant, and then, because they are sturdy, can be turned into almost anything.

Most of the crafting work is done by each member in her own home, but the group meets every Monday and Friday afternoon. With this time, the members work together, practice their skills, teach each other, and encourage one another in all aspects of their lives. They discuss issues such as family planning, and they sing and pray together.

Each week the members make a small contribution to the cooperative, which is used to benefit all the members. They have been able to purchase solar lamps and stoves that use less firewood through an Azizi Life microcredit plan.

Azizi Life, a new member of Jesus’ Economy, represents 25 independent artisan groups in Rwanda.


Shopping fair trade is a great way to encourage and uplift people around the world.

 

When God calls us to something great, it is immediately followed by a faith decision. Similarly, every action towards making our world a better place is a faith decision.

For example, when we go about alleviating poverty or bringing the gospel to the unreached, we’re placing faith in what can be. We are looking at the current situation, calling it “not good enough,” and then acting to create a better situation. When Jesus calls us to help the poor, he expects a faith-based and faithful response. This response requires understanding our place in the world.

Jesus’ disciples were not expected to leave the world, but to be part of it—and to be vehicles of change in it. Jesus makes this point in his final prayer for his disciples:

“I do not ask that you take them [my disciples] out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. Sanctify them in the truth—your word is truth. Just as you sent me into the world, I also have sent them into the world” (John 17:15–18 LEB).

From the beginning of our faith walk to the end of it in this life, our journey is about being in this world, as actors of change. Faith is not a journey that is about removing ourselves from this place, but one about bringing God’s kingdom to this place. It’s a chance to make change happen that matters—to be empowered to change the course of history for the better.

What we do with faith is as important as coming to faith, for what we do once we come to Jesus is what makes a difference in the lives of others. It’s where change for the betterment of our world occurs.

How is your faith connected to your actions? Is your faith changing the way you live each day, and the way you help others?

 

Get more free articles like this one, our daily devotional, and updates: Subscribe now. This article is part of our weekly series, “Living for Jesus.” 

 

This post originally appeared under the title "The Unfathomable Power of Faith."

“Lena died!” The words sent a chill down my spine. Lena was Norris’ sister. This was a workday in Lae, Papua New Guinea, but Norris, my haus meri (maid), had just come to explain she wouldn't be working. As conversation flowed in Tok Pisin (the common trade language of Papua New Guinea) between Norris and my guard, I was relieved to learn that Lena hadn’t died as I understand the term, but rather had been rendered unconscious and transported to a hospital. As the days and years passed by, I wondered if Lena would have preferred to have died than to continue in her life of abuse.

On this particular occasion, her husband’s abuse left her hospitalized for quite a few days, and it was not an isolated incident. On another occasion he threw a table at her while screaming, “I wish you would just die.” Finally, she mustered up the courage to go to the authorities and report her husband’s abuse. I typed her statutory declaration for her and shed more than a few tears when, after listing her husbands abuses, she wrote, “I just want to die.” She now had the courage to escape the situation, and had made the right move, but desperately needed hope.

Lena's story reminds me of another, albeit very different, encounter between a man and a woman: a story in John 8:1–11. In this story, we see how Jesus treats a woman who an entire mob of men wanted to stone. Jesus doesn't immediately answer the woman’s accusers, but rather stoops to write with his finger in the sand. I can just imagine the seething, angry, self-righteous men straining to see what on earth Jesus was doing. Then Jesus stands up and speaks: “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” One by one the mob slinks away until only Jesus is left with the trembling, cowering woman.

Jesus speaks to the woman, still terrified and perhaps crouched on the ground awaiting the impact of the first stone. “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” Slowly, hesitantly, she looks up and rises to her feet. “No one, Lord,” comes her reply—relief, hope, and joy returning to her. Tenderly Jesus allays her final fear, “Neither do I condemn you,” and then he admonishes her, “Go, and from now on sin no more.”

When Jesus addresses the woman in the story there is no sarcasm in his voice, nothing demeaning about the way he spoke to her, and, best of all, no abuse. Jesus’ gentleness and kindness stands out as being completely different from the attitude and behavior of every other man in the story. This is the kind of behavior toward women that we need to emulate and that we need to foster in other men. This story gives Lena, and others like her, hope.

 

Note: The earliest manuscripts of the Gospel of John do not include John 8:1–11, nonetheless, it is beneficial for teaching and discipleship, as this article demonstrates.

Love this blog post? Never miss a post: Subscribe via email. 

 

In John 13, Jesus and his closest friends gather together to celebrate the Passover.  It is a scene of beautiful companionship. They are relaxed and uplifted by their engagement in the ceremony of the Passover supper. In their culture, it was an act of hospitality for a slave to perform the distasteful task of washing the guest's feet. But here in the upper room we get to witness something very special. 

All of a sudden we notice Jesus rise from the table and break tradition by taking the role of a servant, of the lowest of the low. He takes off his outer garment, wraps a towel around his waist, and fills a bowl with water. He stoops to wash the first of his disciples' feet, and then proceeds to do so for each and every one of them. Their feet are not clean as ours are. They are dirty, muddy, and probably smelly.

My Experience Washing Feet

One Sabbath morning in Lae, Papua New Guinea, I encountered a foot washing experience that will forever stick with me. The church was decked out with tropical flowers in readiness for the communion service, and the worshippers were in their best clothes, wearing their big white smiles, and carrying their precious Bibles. Just as Jesus did for his disciples, each of the church attendees was to wash one another's feet. This was like no foot washing experience I had ever participated in. There was mud. There were flies. We were kneeling on leaves to try to keep our best clothes out of the mud. Many of them had no shoes, and those who did wore flip-flops. They trekked for kilometers over mountains, through streams, through red betel-spit stained puddles. Some had fungal infections. Many had sores. It was a uniquely humbling experience to wash the feet of, and have my feet washed by these beautiful Christian people.

Following Jesus’ Example

Back in the upper room the disciples must have looked at each other somewhat sheepishly. Their master, their teacher, their savior was washing their feet.  “I should have done that!” perhaps they inwardly rebuked themselves; Peter even said so (John 13:8). Just like the disciples, we too need to be humbled. Jesus took the first and biggest step of humility when he left heaven to come as the newborn babe of a poor girl, born in a manager, with a label of illegitimate hanging over his head. 

Paul writes in Philippians 2:5-8, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!”

The Steps Jesus Took to Display Humility

Let's look at the steps Jesus took when he washed his disciples’ feet. First, he took off his outer robe. What might this represent for you and I? Overcoming our pride? Casting aside selfish ambition? Stepping beyond our comfort zone? Allowing Jesus to remove our fear? Sometimes, the first step is the hardest to take, but if we don't take that first step, we may never learn the joy of service.

Second, Jesus wrapped a towel around his waist and poured water into a basin. He prepared for the task at hand. This will differ for each of us according to what the Lord is calling us to, and our calling now might not be our calling next month, next year, or next decade. Perhaps we need to gain a certain skill or qualification (e.g., learn a new language or take a first aid course). Perhaps we need to purchase resources, do some planning, get together a team, or maybe just spend more time in prayer and Bible study. Whatever it is, we cannot just rush headlong into service. Just like Jesus, we need to take the necessary steps of preparation to be effective in our respective ministries.

The next step is what I like to call “see a need, fill a need.” Dirty feet need to be washed. Hungry bellies need to be fed. The illiterate need lessons. Those with illness and disease need medicine. Wayward teens need guidance. Abused women need a refuge. Corrupt governments need to be opposed. The list goes on and on. What needs do you see in your home, community, country, and world? 

Called to Messy Service

Paul describes in 1 Corinthians 12 how each body part serves a unique purpose and yet is valuable and integral to the function of the body. Similarly, each one of us has different gifts, skills, and passions, and God designed us that way because he has a unique role he wants each of us to enact. Yet we all serve the ultimate purpose of bringing him glory. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God's handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.”

Jesus is our example when it comes to dirty, muddy service. The disciples followed his example taking the gospel to the ends of the earth, being stoned, imprisoned, and even martyred for the sake of the gospel.  So, what dirty, muddy service is the Lord calling you to today? Is it to help out in the local soup kitchen? Volunteer to wash the dishes after a church potluck? Serve in a far-off land whose President's name you cannot pronounce?

Whatever your call might be, just remember that Jesus too made sacrifices, Jesus too got his hands dirty, and Jesus too calls us to this dirty, muddy service.

At this time of year, the stress levels for many are almost too much to bear. We struggle through the ups and downs of the season, as we navigate family, our budget, and our church life. It’s all too easy to become frustrated and angry, and then to lose sight of our priorities. The key to changing all this: thankfulness -- for Christ, salvation, and what we have been given.

During Christmas season, I often find myself up awake at night, wondering about all that is and all that could be. As I stare at the ceiling, I struggle with the thought that maybe I’m not living up to what God intends for me to be. And indeed, there are always areas I can improve, but much of this self-doubt is probably rooted in ungratefulness.

My wife Kalene's recent solution to some of these difficulties was to share with me a lovely song from the 1954 film, White Christmas:

“When I'm worried and I can't sleep / I count my blessings instead of sheep / And I fall asleep / Counting my blessings / When my bankroll is getting small / I think of when I had none at all / And I fall asleep / Counting my blessings / If your worried and you can't sleep / Just count your blessings instead of sheep / And you'll fall asleep / Counting your blessings”

And isn’t this the truth? We all have the blessing of Jesus, who saves, as well as many other blessings. If only that were our focus instead!

Paul the Apostle understood this. Repeatedly, he opens his letters with words of thankfulness. For example, even when addressing the Corinthian church, who he is struggling to maintain a relationship with, he says:

“Blessed is the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in all affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. For just as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, thus through Christ our comfort overflows also” (2 Cor 1:3–5).

Here is Paul, in the midst of a struggle with the Corinthian church, and with some struggles of his own, showing a spirit of thankfulness. By counting his blessings, he finds a way to have joy even when things are hard.

When we really get down to it, there’s an obvious point that we all know, but that maybe we should take a second to remind ourselves of: This season is about Jesus, or at least it’s supposed to be. Breathe that in. Tell yourself that everyday. Remember what Jesus did for us, and be thankful for it. It will change everything.

And then, take a moment to remind yourself how the one who gave it all calls us to give it all for the betterment of our world.

When we give, our thought patterns change -- and our general attitude about life changes. We find ourselves realizing what God can do through our lives and then we find ourselves grateful for it.

Jesus can do so much through your life, and wants to do so much. Give over more of your life to him this year. Let him work through you in this season, to show love to others with a generous and grateful spirit. Work with Christ to transform lives and our world.

 

Love this blog post? Never miss a blog post: Subscribe here.

What does a strong person look like? 

When I say “strong person,” my imagination creates a picture of someone standing tall and confident. I see him as he holds his head high, his chin pointed toward the sky. He keeps his hands on his hips, ready to conquer. He makes himself larger in the shadow of the vast world. The sky illuminates behind him as the mountains shrink in his presence. Nothing can slow him down, and nothing can stop him. He is a strong person.

When we think of strength, we each—in our own way—summon images like these. We imagine a person with enough willpower to do anything they believe in. We imagine a hero.

We associate strength with power and power is associated with heroic actions. 

This makes me feel smaller. It makes me feel like I can never measure up to the strength and dignity of a hero. I will never be that big. I will never be that important. I will never make big changes in the world. I am the person who might make little ripples—coursing love and peace into the lives of the people directly around me. I tell myself that I will never be able to turn my ripples into waves, and that the world will never know I was here. 

But I have to stop myself before I get carried away. I don’t know exactly what God’s plan is for my life. I don’t know whether he will or won’t turn my ripples into waves. 

God might call me to only make small ripples and do little things. But if this is what happens, it won’t make me weak. 

It Is Not Our Impact that Makes Us Strong

A strong person is made by their ability to let go of themselves, turn their lives over to God, and let him be the guide. A strong person is one who humbles themselves before the throne of God, and admits that they cannot do it on their own. The only thing we can really do on our own is to fall short of the glory of God.

But once we commit our lives to God, he can do anything through us (Philippians 4:13). He can use us to do something big and heroic, like he used Deborah as she led the Israelites. He can also use us to do the little things.

Giving Our Life to Serve God in Little Ways

It’s in the “little things” that we find Priscilla. She isn’t very well known in the Bible, but she displayed true heroism. For Jesus, Priscilla did the small things to make the big things happen. Married to a man named Aquila, Priscilla and her husband traveled with Saint Paul, as he ministered to others. Her support of Paul made his ministry possible. And Paul’s ministry, which must have also felt like Priscilla’s own (as it was), made way for the gospel to reach a large portion of the world.

Aquila and Priscilla are only mentioned six times in the Bible and each mention is brief. They are mentioned as being friends with Paul, and working together before they left to minister with him.

“After this Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. And he found a Jew named Aquila, a native of Pontus, recently come from Italy with his wife Priscilla, because Claudius had commanded all the Jews to leave Rome. And he went to see them, and because he was of the same trade, he stayed with them and worked, for they were tentmakers by trade.” (Acts 18:1–3 ESV).

When Paul mentions Priscilla and Aquila, it’s always with adoration:

“Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their necks for my life, to whom not only I give thanks but all the churches of the Gentiles give thanks as well (Romans 16:3–4 ESV).

What makes this mention even more impressive is the fact that Priscilla was a woman—in the first century AD’s patriarchal culture, Priscilla was in ministry each step along the way. Never are the husband and wife mentioned apart from one another. As Aquila and Paul worked to share the truth, Priscilla was there too. She worked with her husband as a tentmaker before they left, and she worked with him as a disciple after. She lived the life God called her to live, and it became one of ministry and encouragement. In Acts, Luke tells us:

“Now a Jew named Apollos, a native of Alexandria, came to Ephesus.  He was an eloquent man, competent in the scriptures.  He had been instructed in the way of the Lord.  And being fervent in spirit, he spoke and taught accurately the things concerning Jesus, thought he knew only the baptism of John.  He began to speak boldly in the synagogue, but when Priscilla and Aquila heard him, they took him and explained to him the way of God more accurately” (Acts 18:24–26 ESV).

 They took him and explained to him—together, Priscilla and Aquila work for the gospel. Priscilla may not be the most influential disciple, but she was critical to God’s work in the world. In addition, Paul’s gratitude for Priscilla’s gifts, efforts, and fellowship suggests that Priscilla likely empowered many others—as that was a core belief of Paul’s.

Heroic in the Small Things—for Jesus

Priscilla was a strong person. She was a hero. She humbled herself before God and accepted his plans for her life. She loved people and invested in them. It appears that Priscilla never gave up—even to the point of risking her own life for Jesus’ ministry.  

We can all be leaders and empower other people. This isn’t something chosen for a few of God’s elect. It comes with listening to him and means a change in our lives.

God’s call means different things for different people. For Deborah, it meant becoming a judge and leading the Israelites into an important battle. For Priscilla, it meant that she dropped everything to travel with her husband and Paul to proclaim the hope of salvation.

Disciples Work Together

Paul never worked alone, and neither did Jesus. They both had supporters who helped them in their work—and made the ministry their own. Priscilla, Mary Magdalene, Mary, mother of Jesus, Mary of Bethany all contributed to the gospel through what seemed like little deeds. But they each accomplished something much larger as they spread the gospel.  It’s as a team that God’s people work.

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow.  But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!” (Ecclesiastes 4:9–10 ESV).

Real Strength

Priscilla’s actions suggest that strength is really about boundless faith, humility, and obedience to God.

Now, when I think of strength I see someone kneeling before the cross, infinitely small in the presence of a God so great. There are tears streaming down the person’s face as they accept an everlasting love. They leave their past behind and look to their future with God as they say, “Here I am, send me” (Isaiah 6:8). 

 

Love this blog post? Get all or our posts delivered to your inbox.

What does it mean to be Jesus to others? How can we use our skills to empower people in need? In this video, CEO John D. Barry talks about how we can be like Jesus and use our gifts to receive those around us who are hungry, thirsty, and needy.

Being Jesus to Others: A Story from Bihar, India

Share this video with your friends. Use hashtag #EmpoweringWomen and tag @JesusEconomy (or @Jesus' Economy on Facebook).

Never miss a blog post! Subscribe to our blog via email.

Why am I on earth? It’s the most major existential question we ask. But perhaps it’s better framed as: What does God want from me?

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. For everything in the world—the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life—comes not from the Father but from the world. The world and its desires pass away, but whoever does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17 NIV).

These may be some of the most misinterpreted verses in the Bible. I’ve seen people read these verses and then completely shun the world. They think that this passage is telling them to live secluded lives and to ignore the people who ignore Christ—to simply reject the world.

But that’s not what God tells us to do. God loves the world, for he sent his son to die for it (John 3:16–17). Thus, God is not saying to shun the world; he is telling us to not love what the world loves. We should not love the world’s desires and passions.

In 1 John, the world is a metaphor here for evil desires. And the evil of this world will pass away, but “whoever does the will of God abides forever.”

God doesn’t want us to hate the world; he simply wants us to fulfill His good and perfect will.

So, What is the Will of God?

God’s will is for us to love him, and to glorify him in all that we do. Part of loving God is loving the people he created. If we truly love him, love for his creation follows (Matthew 22:37–39).

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him” (John 3:16–17 NIV).

Here in John’s Gospel the metaphor of the world is representative of all of humanity—God loving humanity in spite of humanity’s evil acts.

It is not our job to shun the world; it is our joy to love the people in the world, as God loved them first—that all of humanity might be saved through Christ.

Putting Our Faith into Practice

Sometimes, loving the people around us can be incredibly hard.

A few days ago, I passed a group of kids who were smoking and way too young to be doing so. They were dressed very inappropriately and disrespecting the people around them. As a do-gooder, my natural response was to shake my head. I then simply looked at them, took pity on them for their ignorance, and kept walking. Then, a feeling of pride rose in my heart as I considered myself as someone who knows better. But that’s not what’s supposed to happen, nor what did.

As I walked by, my first thought was, yes, one of judgment. But as I kept walking, God reminded me that he wants something more of me: I am not supposed to judge nor just simply walk by.

We are supposed to take it a step further. We are called to love them.

How Could I Love Them?

Instead of just walking by, maybe I should have smiled at the kids, said hello, or tried to show them that I cared. I don’t want to be the scoffer that walks by. I also don’t want to be the person who “proclaims God’s Word” and then walks the other direction. I want to live out my beliefs—I want to glorify God. I want to truly show love.

If we are to glorify God, we must truly love the people around us—all of them. We must love the rich and the impoverished, the mean and the nice, the whole and the broken. Whether we like it or not, this is what we are called to do.

Loving the Impoverished, as Jesus Would

“Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide purses for yourselves that will not wear out, a treasure in heaven that will never fail, where no thief comes near and no moth destroys” (Luke 12:33 NIV).

The needy are not just the people who live on the streets. The needy are also those who don’t have Christ. The needy are the ones who are alone.

And we can be here for them. We can ask them what they need, and we can do our best to empower them—thus shining the light of God.

When we are able to see what really matters in life—when we see what God’s will truly is—we provide for the impoverished and needy, and we store up our treasures in heaven instead of on earth. We see what it means to live out of God’s desires instead of the desires of the world.

So, Why Am I Here?

I am here to glorify God. I am here to satisfy God’s will. I am here to love the whole world. I am here to love all of the people in the world.

How can I show them love best? I can show them I love them by empowering them. I can be here for them. I can walk up to them and have a conversation. I don’t need to push my love. I need to let it flow from me—just as God’s love flows into me.

We are here to love the world.

“Some things require hard prayer.”

The man who spoke these words to me should know: Biju Thomas is the director of Transformation India Movement—Jesus’ Economy’s partner in Bihar, India. Bihar is one of the most impoverished places in the world, where few have heard the name of Jesus. In Bihar, Biju is empowering people out of poverty and offering access to the gospel. His work is hard and requires hard prayer. In Biju’s work is a message for you. This message, believe it or not, is rooted in a bit of a sitcom joke from Jesus. It’s awkward and beautiful.

One Guy is Awoken in the Night, He Says to the Other …

Jesus understood that there would be times for hard prayer. And it wasn’t beyond Jesus to setup an incredible awkward scene to illustrate this point. In Luke’s Gospel, after Jesus offers the Lord’s Prayer, he says:

“Which of you who has a friend will go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has arrived on a journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within, ‘Do not bother me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed. I cannot get up and give you anything’? I tell you, though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his impudence he will rise and give him whatever he needs” (Luke 11:5–8 ESV).

Jesus’ scenario is like a scene that a New York sitcom writer would setup: An old friend shows up in the middle of the night and is hungry. But you’re out of food and the store is closed, so you go to your neighbor’s studio apartment to wake him up.  You knock on the door and he starts yelling …

To first-century, Jewish people this scene is probably very awkward—and perhaps even a little funny. Within a culture that highly valued hospitality—with people who lived primarily in one-bedroom homes, before the age of phones, grocery stores, and electricity—these words from Jesus would have had an even greater affect. The scenario in the original audience’s mind probably went something like this:

I’m expected to help my guest, why would my neighbor not help me? … Oh, I guess you’re right, if I was sleeping and my children were asleep, and someone woke me up, I would probably be disturbed too. … And yes, if I were persistent, my neighbor would answer me. Even though it would be an incredible inconvenience to my neighbor, they would understand that I needed their assistance.

Jesus uses this entire analogy to explain hard prayer. It’s shocking and jarring to his audience—for a reason.

Hard Prayer According to an Awkward Scene

Jesus goes on to explain the moral of his story:

“And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened” (Luke 11:9–10 ESV).

I think Jesus hits us with the awkward scene before the moral for a reason: Jesus wants us to remember that prayer is inconvenient. (The scene was so awkward that it made me uncomfortable when explaining it. And awkward is funny and memorable.)

Call upon God, and yes, he will answer. But that does not mean that God will answer right away. And it doesn’t mean that the call to God will be easy. Calling upon God—knocking on his door—will probably be as difficult as waking up your neighbor in the night.

Living with the Awkward

Prayer is a conversation. It’s about building a relationship. Who has built a solid marriage or friendship without some awkward moments and misunderstandings? Who tells stories about the convenient parts of their lives? Who would actually prefer to watch a sitcom over live one? If your life were a sitcom, it would be happening right now—are you living it? In all its awkwardness, are you living something memorable?

Jesus explains his scene further with another analogy:

“What father among you, if his son asks for a fish, will instead of a fish give him a serpent; or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:11–13 ESV).

For Jesus’ culture, it is not when he calls a generation of people “evil” that they are really shocked—it was accepted culturally that people needed a savior and were far from God. The most shocking thing that Jesus says is that the Holy Spirit will be given to those who ask the Father for it. The Holy Spirit was viewed as something that dwelled upon a few individuals—mainly prophets and sometimes kings, and every once in a while, priests—at select moments in time.

This ultimately represents what Jesus’ ministry is all about—God’s very presence dwelling among us and in us. It is Jesus’ death and resurrection that make this possible. Jesus bridges the gap between humanity and God, by bearing the sin of his evil generation and all others, allowing for God to dwell among us and in us.

Prayer is a conversation with the very God who is at work among us. God’s ways are not like our ways, and God wants to change our world for the better—that will lead to some awkward situations.

Following after Jesus—and seeking him through prayer—is not easy, but it is rewarding. My friend Biju is engaged in this type of hard prayer: It is the baseline for everything he does. It requires hard prayer to alleviate poverty and provide access to the gospel. It requires hard prayer to change the world.

Let’s get awkward for Jesus—praying through each moment.

 

Love this post? Subscribe to our blog via email.