That particular phrase is not one that springs to mind when pondering prayer. Perhaps it should be something we consider.
In Exodus 33, we can read an account of Moses’ boldness. Moses had previously ascended the mountain to receive God’s laws. Back at the base, the people grew impatient and crafted for themselves a golden idol. Moses returned and disciplined the people severely. He moved his tent outside of camp and spent time there communing with God.
Starting in verse 12, Moses begins to beg for God to teach him. He says, “Please, if I’ve been good enough, show me Your path. I just want to know You as You know me.” God assures Moses of His continued presence, but Moses persists, begging God to stay with them. God agrees to remain with His people, despite their recent sins. Moses persists: “Please, show me Your glory.”
Now, please recall: this is the man who just destroyed stone tablets carved by the hand of God. He had a speech impediment. He was the leader of a pack of stubborn, disobedient, unteachable children who had recently carved and worshipped an idol. Moses had already begged God not to destroy the Israelites (32:11-14). He had already received God’s assurances of presence and guidance, but it’s never enough for some people, is it?
“Please, show me your glory.”
I’m sure Moses was humble and and respectful, but somehow I cannot mentally envision the same timidity that accompanied Oliver Twist’s, “Please sir, I want some more.” We know how Moses’ plea worked out for him; he died the only person ever to see God on this side of death. The people of Israel, of course, wanted no part of it. Just 13 chapters earlier they viewed with Moses the thunderous majesty of God as He descended to Mount Sinai and said, “We’ll wait here. You go on and let us know what He said. Tell Him we said ‘Hi.'”
Centuries later, Elisha played nursemaid to the kings of his day, dragging them before the Lord and slapping them across the back of their heads, demanding that they understand. Near the end of his life, the aging prophet counseled Johoash, king of Israel (2 kings 13:10-19). The Arameans were coming and King Jehoash ran crying to the prophet. As Elisha demonstrated God’s impending salvation, he commanded the king to strike the ground with some arrows. Whether by laziness, uncertainty, or folly, the king only struck the ground three times. “Fool!” Elisha answered. “Had you dared to ask for it all, God would have given it to you!”
Spurgeon, in a sermon on Hebrews 4, implored his listeners to boldly approach the throne of grace, joyful at their right to enter the throne room of God, and ask what they would; however, they should do so without forgetting that they were approaching a throne!
From Jesus’ lesson about persistence in prayer to Abraham’s negotiation for Sodom to Gideon’s request for repeated proofs of God’s commands to Nathan’s assurance that David could have asked God for more….
Standing back and insisting on only requesting the basics isn’t exactly respect. The Israelites kept their distance from God out of sheer terror that blinded them to His grace and love. I only request the basics because I feel like I’m bothering Him, forgetting that I couldn’t possibly request too much. Others keep Him at arm’s length because they doubt His power, or the closeness of His presence, or His interest in their issues. We could go on and on, I suppose.
I’m facing some situations right now that require some dedicated prayer. I’m trying to figure out what to do, and I’ve been asking Him, “Umm,…just tell me what to do. I’ll be fine with that. Just…guidance.” That’s not me showing simple faith. That’s my impression of some desert nomads staring at a mountain saying, “Umm….gee….whatever you say is fine. We’ll go with that.”
Both respect and audacity indicate something about our view of things. Respect shows that we grasp the gap in our relative positions. Audacity illustrates understanding of our relationship.
Friends, let us be audacious and ask of God great and holy things, that His power and presence can be seen in our lives and in this world.