“Does God really answer prayer?” You might ask yourself. In today’s passage, it almost looks as if Jesus is saying that God gives anything and everything to people who ask. But Jesus isn’t trying to say that God gives everything in response to our prayers. Instead, he’s trying to help us understand that God loves us and loves to give us good gifts. Because he’s a loving father, God is responsive to the prayers of his children.
Parents know that children ask for stuff. A lot of stuff. And parents love to give stuff to their children when they ask…but not everything. Sometimes children ask for things that are impossible or destructive, so, sometimes, parents have to say no. It’s the same with God. He loves to give gifts to his children, but there are times when, for our own good, he has to say no too. It’s not that we don’t pray enough (despite some translations implying that’s what Jesus says). It’s not that we don’t have enough faith. Like a parent who won’t let their kids subsist on a diet of chocolate, so God sometimes has to save us from our own prayer requests.
So when I ask, “Does God really answer prayer?” I shouldn’t confuse that with “Will God give me everything I want”? If that’s my question the answer is no. But God does lovingly interact with his children.
But if God responds to our prayers, we have a tremendous responsibility. When we neglect prayer, God doesn’t give out his good gifts as he otherwise might. So we should find encouragement that in prayer, we partner with God to change the world.
Questions for Discussion
- How do I find my prayer life? Is it rewarding or is it hard to stay motivated?
- How do I view God when I don’t get the things I pray for?
What difficult experiences have I undergone that later turned out to be helpful?