Asking in prayer (B)
Last week we were thinking about prayer in the sense of asking, and we saw that prayer means asking for what God wants us to have. It is completely useless to ask him for things which would do us no good if we had them. Suppose, just before dinnertime, a small girl – or boy – asks her mother if she can have some sweets. Well, no sensible mother would let her have them because they would spoil her appetite so that she would not eat her dinner. The girl would like the sweets, but they wouldn’t do her any good. So one of the reasons why people don’t get what they ask God for is that they ask for the wrong things and God says ‘No’. The Collect for the 10th Sunday after Trinity reminds us of the importance of asking for what God wants us to have:
“Let your merciful ears, O Lord,
be open to the prayers of your humble servants;
and that they may obtain their petitions
make them to ask such things as shall please you …” (1)
As St James tells us “You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, in order to spend what you get on your pleasures” (NRSV, James 4:3).
For you must remember that when God gives us things in answer to prayer he does so in order to bring us closer to him or so that we may do some good with them.