My friend was showing his four year old son a book of photos of galaxies when the little boy turned excited eyes to him and asked if they could go visit these wonderful places. “They’re too far away,” his father said. “Can’t we take an airplane,” came the quick response? “We’d never get there,” my friend explained. “Let’s buy a rocket ship,” was the determined response.
Something deep within us isn’t willing to take no for an answer when there’s something good we really want. As grown-ups we grow cautious about voicing such determination and we accept delay as a part of life but desire survives, even if quietly, looking for its moment.
Once we’re aware of the awesome universe and life we’re being given, It’s impossible to be indifferent towards it. We want all we can get. Prayer puts a voice to those desires. It’s not so much asking God for something new as it is voicing our desire to plum the depths of all God’s already giving. It isn’t an activity separate from the rest of life. It’s is part and parcel of life.
My aunt was a painter. She once gave a friend of hers a beautiful landscape. Without hesitation her friend immediately hung the work in her living room where she could see and enjoy it constantly in the best light possible. She wanted the maximum pleasure from her gift.
An old piece of advice is to pray as if everything depends on God and work as if everything depends on us. That advice isn’t trying to say everything about prayer. It’s simply making the point that asking God for something isn’t a business-like request or bargaining for some item. It is more an excited urging of a friend to continue the generosity that he is already showing. It’s showing appreciation and trust for a continuing love.
Asking God for something doesn’t tell God something new. It reminds us that we want more of life; we want the unimaginable all of life. We know that we can’t grasp it all on our own but we bring our desires before God in faith.