Our readings this weekend present prayer as a relationship with God. In the first reading, Abraham is in a close enough relationship with God that he can barter with Him. In an almost comical dialog, Abraham gets God to agree not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah if there are 10 good people in them.
Our Gospel is Luke’s version of the Our Father, after which Jesus very clearly promises that God will hear our prayer. It is not uncommon for me to hear something like, “I thought God said He would hear our prayers. I prayed for my husband to get better but he died.” Or “why do bad things happen to good people?”
We need to be careful not to regard God as a genie (who will grant our every wish) or as a vending machine (put in my prayer and the chosen result will pop out). God is a loving parent who gives His
children what is best for them, not what they think is the best. He has a bigger picture and knows what is truly best for us. After all, in the Our Father, we do pray “thy will be done.” God’s will, not ours!
Then why should we bother praying? Because it reminds us that God is in control and it strengthens our relationship with God. As the theologian Kierkegaard put it, “Prayer does not change God but it changes the one who prays.” It opens us to God and His will as we share our needs and desires. Maybe it is more about us hearing God than God hearing our prayers.
In His statement about asking, seeking, and knocking, Jesus tells us we will receive, find, and have the door opened for us, but He doesn’t say it will be exactly what we are asking. In fact, He ends by saying that the Father will give the Holy Spirit to those who ask, seek, and knock. Could there be a better answer to our prayers?
Church sign of the week: When praying, don’t give God instructions. Just report for duty.