Imagine that you have spent the day with friends. They have three children under the age of ten. It is a beautiful summer afternoon, and for the last few hours they have been running around in the garden having fun. They are happy, hot and tired.
The littlest child comes up to his dad, and tugs on his trouser leg.
“Daddy, I’m thirsty. Can I have a drink?”
How will his dad respond?
He certainly won’t give him an empty beaker. Nor will he give him a glass of acid. Why would he give his son something useless? Or worse something dangerous? Instead he will head into the kitchen and find some him some orange squash. Or maybe even some ice-cold lemonade. It is after all a weekend!
Why does he do this?
Well, he loves his son. He doesn’t need to be persuaded, or taught to give his thirsty little son a drink. It is his loving instinct.
Jesus uses a similar picture to give us an understanding of how God responds to our prayers.
They are among some of the most encouraging words in Scripture:
“…which one of you, if his son asks him for bread will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matthew 7:9-11)
Who is Jesus talking to?
His disciples. Jesus offered them and us the opportunity to become his Father’s children. The Bible gives us the picture of second birth, so that we are able to be born into a new family. It also gives us the picture of adoption, by which the Father chooses to open up his family to us.
He wants to be our Abba – our dad!
As his children we are able to hold onto Jesus’ promise in this mini-parable. God is better than any earthly father! He loves us far more than we can imagine. His instinct to bless us is far greater than any earthly father. And his knowledge for how to do so far outstrips any human dad’s understanding of his child’s needs.
It does not say that the Father will necessarily give us what we ask for. But it does say that when we ask him for blessings he will give us good things. We may be like the child who asks her dad for jelly beans before dinner, but whose dad says “no” so that he is able to give her the bigger gift of enjoying the meal.
When I’m worried that God might not answer my prayers, or that he has given me things I haven’t asked for, I hold onto this wonderful promise.
“…how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
Jesus gives no qualifiers. His Father will give good things to his children when they ask. It is as simple as that.