“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).
So much of what happens when we pray has to do with whether we trust God. For starters, whether we believe God is there at all or if we are just talking to ourselves. Then, whether God hears us, is disposed to give us what we want, and finally, how and when God will deliver an answer.
Jesus uses human analogies. A parent hears a child asking for something to eat and provides it. People who search for something, or knock on a door, or ask a question, are normally the ones who get results. So, prayer is really just jumping into the process of talking to God, trusting that if our interactions with other human beings, as unreliable as they sometimes are, get us what we need, how much more will God, who loves us, see that we receive the same and even more.
This basic understanding of prayer is put to the test when we don’t appear to get what we want. This leads to a deeper analysis of whether we have prayed properly, asked for the right things, been persistent enough. If we have been short-sighted or so intent on a specific result, we will miss how God has given us something different but better or much larger than we asked for. As it has been said bluntly,“Every prayer is answered, and sometimes the answer is ‘No.’” But even if this is the case, isn’t it an answer that reveals God’s love for us?
What Jesus seems to emphasize is not the quid pro quo of prayer but the relationship itself. If we have a relationship with God, talk to God, negotiate with God, trust God, we will find that everything else is provided.