We are made in God's image. God tells us to pray because He wants to spend time with us. it isn't about stuff. it isn't about the answers. It is about Time with Him. He knows what we need and what we want. if He wanted, if He just didn't care whether or not we were close to Him, He could give us everything we need and want in an instant, but that's not what life is about.
We hear it all the time. Life is about relationship -- and it is. It's God and the people in our lives that matter. We are what matter to those who love us.
God doesn't wilingly withhold stuff from you to be mean or to teach you a lesson because you have been bad. He doesn't withhold stuff from you because He wants you to suffer. If He gave His Son to death, why would He withhold anything else? If I am willing to hand over my child to someone, don't you think anything else would be no big deal?
God restrains Himself for our good.
What happens if you give a child everything he wants? What happens when you overwhelm a child with gifts and treasures? It doesn't bring out the best in that child. The same is true for us.
I'm reading a book called Quiet Talks on Prayer by a man named S.D. Gordon. He wasn't a minister. He didn't have any higher education.
I will quote a rather large passage from the book that gives an analogy on how God answers prayer. It made sense to me. I hope it will bless you:
He writes, "Will you notice how men give? Among those who give to benevolent enterprises there are three sorts of givers, with variations in each.
"There is the man who gives because he is influenced by others. If the right man or committee of men all, and deftly present their pleas, playing skillfully upon what may appeal to him; his position; his egotism; the possible advantage to accrue; what men whom he wants to be classes with are doing, and so on through the wide range that such men are familiar with; if they persist, by and by he gives. At first he seems reluctant, but finally gives with more or less grace. That is one sort of giver.
"There is a second sort: the man of truly benevolent heart who is desirous of giving that he may be of help to other men. He listens attentively when pleas come to him, and waits only long enough to satisfy himself of the worth of the cause, and the proper sort of amount to give, and then gives.
"There is a third sort, the rarest sort. This second man a stage farther on, who takes the initiative. He looks about him, makes inquries, and thinks over the greatest need in every direction of his fellow men. He decides where his money may best be used to help; and then himself offers to give. But his gift may be abused by some who would get his money if they could, and use it injudiciously, or otherwise than he intends. So he makes certain conditions which must be met, the purpose of which is to establish sympathetic relations in some particular with those whom he would help. An Englishman's heart is strongly moved to get the story of Jesus to the inland millions of Chinese. He requests the China-Inland Mission to control the expenditure of almost a milion dollars of his money in such a way as best to secure the object of his heart. An American gives a large sum to the Young Men's Christian Association of his home city to be expended as directed. His thought is not to build up this particular organization, but to benefit large numbers of the young men of his town who will meet certain conditions which he thinks to be for their good. He has learned to trust this organization, and so it becomes his trustee.
"Another man feels that if the people of New York City can be given good reading they can thereby best be helped in life. And so he volunteers money for a number of libraries throughout the city. And thousands who yearn to increase their knowledge come into sympathy with him in that one point through his gift. In all such cases the giver's thought is to accomplish certain results in those whose purpose in certain directions is sympathetic with his own.
"Any human illustration of God must seem crude . . . Yet, I am more and more disposed to believe it true that most persons have unthinkingly thought of God's answering prayer as the first of these three men give. Many others have had in mind some such thought as the second suggests. Yet to state the case even thus definitely is to make it plain that neither of these ways in any manner illustrate God's giving. The third comes the nearest to picturing the God who hears and answers prayer. Our God has a great heart yearning after His poor prodigal world, and after each one in it. He longs to have the effects of sin removed, and the original image restored. He takes the initiative. Yet everything that is done for man must of necessity be through man's will; by his free and glad consent."
I could go on. The book is filled with good stuff, good thoughts on prayer.
Our Father God wants to spend time with us. He created us with delight. He delights in us. He wants to be with us. He wants us to give Him our time, our attention, to look Him in the eye face-to-face and rest in Him.
This world is not our home. Adam and Eve handed it over to the devil and sin. No matter how good we live our lives we have to deal with the world as it is (which means dealing with death and suffering and pain and such). But God can get us through in a much better way than we can without Him. Talk to Him.
What if your kids just wanted to talk to you when they wanted stuff?
You're glad they want to talk to you, but it isn't what you desire.
It's not what God desires either (and as I finish this up I wonder if the quote I shared really fits with my words, but I'll leave it anyway. It's good).