The promise that Jesus makes in today’s Gospel sounds like a very good deal. To the greedy and selfish part of our nature, it sounds as if we can have whatever we want. But we cannot usually foresee what the consequences would be if God granted every prayer we make. In fact, most of us can admit that we’re glad that God has said “no” to some of our past prayers. So how should we understand today’s declaration.
Petitionary prayer doesn’t inform the Father of our needs. God already knows what we need. Rather, petitioning God for what we need, both materially and spiritually, is an exercise of trust in – and submissive dependence upon – the One who gives all good things. St. Paul upbraided the Galatians for wanting to put their faith in works of the Mosaic Law. Our faith, instead, must be in Jesus Christ.
One of my favorite quotes from The Imitation of Christ by Tomas a’ Kempis states that the only thing that we can change by our intercessory prayer is ourselves. This may seem to contradict what Jesus says in the Gospel. However, if we understand that God’s will is not dependent upon us, then we will realize that our intercessions are a way to come to understand our relationships with God and with one another. Instead of praying for God to grant my needs, we gradually pray as Jesus prayed in the Garden of Olives: “Not my will, but yours be done.”
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator