The illustration of prayer Jesus uses here is of a good child asking for a good thing. We talk about prayer as if the state of our relationship to God makes no difference to whether he gives us what we want. Never say that it isn’t God’s will to give you what you ask; don’t throw your hands up in defeat. Take a spiritual inventory; find the reason. Ask yourself: Am I in the relationship of a good child asking for a good thing? Am I rightly related to my spouse, my children, my friends and colleagues? Or am I saying to God, “Oh, Lord, I know I’ve been irritable and angry, but I want a spiritual blessing”? If this is my mindset, I’ll have to do without the blessing until I adopt the attitude of the good child.

We mistake defiance for devotion, telling God that we want to be abandoned to him, when really we just want to abandon our responsibilities. We refuse to take a spiritual inventory. Have I been asking God to give me money for something I want when there’s something I haven’t paid for? Have I been asking God for liberty when I am withholding it from someone else? Is there someone I haven’t forgiven, someone to whom I haven’t been kind?

I’m a child of God only through spiritual rebirth. I’m good only as long as I walk in the light. Most of us turn prayer into a pious platitude, using it to get an emotional fix or viewing it as a hazy, mystical experience. Spiritually, we are all good at producing fogs. If we take an inventory, we will see very clearly what we must set right—a friendship, a debt, a temperament. There’s no point in praying unless we are living as children of God. Once we are, then, Jesus says, “Everyone who asks receives” (Matthew 7:8).

Wisdom from Oswald

If there is only one strand of faith amongst all the corruption within us, God will take hold of that one strand.  Not Knowing Whither, 888 L