THE MEANING AND POWER OF PRAYER
Why Pray |
for our Problems |
Appreciation, Praise, and Reverence | Prayers for Others |
How Prayer Works | Prayer from the Heart | What to Ask for |
Intent | Jesus' Example
What Can or Should We Ask For?
As mentioned before, we should include words of praise and gratification in our prayers. However, when we are making a request, what kinds of things can we or should we ask for?
Jesus told us, "Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; know and the door will be opened to you." (Matthew 7) Does this mean that we can ask for anything we desire? We have the tendency to ask for the things that we think we need or deserve. So, when we don't get what we asked for, we feel that God hasn't answered our prayer. However, God knows what we need, and like any good parent, he does not always give us what we ask for.
In a simplistic analogy, if your hungry child were to have his/her own way, he or she might ask to eat a few candy bars, a bowl of potato chips, maybe some cake, etc. That might be a temporary fix to the child's hunger problem, but it will only hurt them, not help them, in the long run. As a parent, you would instead give your child a healthy meal, food that would satisfy his/her needs and help him/her to grow.
Another example would be the doctor who allows us to undergo a surgery that involves a painful recuperation period, because he knows that in the end, we will be cured of our medical condition. As human beings we don't always see the bigger picture, which allows us to understand what is truly best for us. Therefore, what we think we need may not be the best solution.
Sometimes, this bigger picture involves trials or atonements that we must undergo. Protected by the veil of forgetfulness, we do not remember the events of our past lives, and rather than being handed the solution to our suffering, we must use our free will to overcome our temptations and trials, to accept our struggles with a bravery and faith that will give us merit and allow us to grow. In this case we are reminded of the famous Serenity Prayer that says, "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
Instead of asking for material things or quick solutions to our problems, our prayers of request will have more value if we ask for moral support from God and our spiritual friends. Jesus said, "Ask and you will receive." According to the interpretation of that in "The Gospel Explained by the Spiritist Doctrine", if we ask for a light in our path, strength to resist wrongdoing, inspiration and advice, we will receive help from good spirits, according to our merit and our ability to be open to this help.