I had a rather absurd epiphany last week. I was praying, asking God for something mundane, when a spiritual reality broke on me like a rash: God wants to give.
I had known this, but for some reason--in this particular moment--the notion made me itch. My desire for prayer had always been high, but hamstrung by inconsistency. In groups I was not too shy to pray aloud. In solitude I was not too distracted to say nice words. Even my theology of prayer was sound.
But something about a particular request last week, left its mark. The request was something simple: Lord, give my wife a good day. Or: Lord, let my daughters sleep well. They are prayers I have muttered before, prior to working or sleeping. They were part of a script. Nice words. Best wishes. Hallmark God-greetings.
It was the simplicity of the request that sent me scratching. Could God possibly care about the sleep patterns of my ten-month old? Was He partial to how smoothly my wife's day might unfold? Currently, God was busy: fighting cancer in a neighbor's chest and adulterous leanings in a friend's heart; sustaining the persecuted church abroad and dispatching angelic hosts to wage war against demonic insurgents. Did He really have time to stamp goodness on a day and serenity on a night?
But those are the wrong questions. Prayer is not about time. God need not consult His dispensation chart to answer. Rather, He answers as a Father, wanting to give good gifts to His children (Mt 7: 9-11).
If they ask.