Last Sunday’s reading from the Gospel of Luke (11:1-13) is one of my personal favorites, not just because in the passage Jesus teaches the disciples how to pray, but also talks about how God listens. More specifically, Jesus assures the disciples that God always listens, and always responds.
Now, admittedly, that response is not always the way we want it. Sometimes when I have prayed the response has been immediate and clear. Other prayers I’m still waiting to hear back, although I wonder if perhaps it is I who have not been listening.
But Jesus uses a common rhetorical device in his teachings: pointing out that regular people like the disciples will be moved to respond to people when they are insistent and in need—how then could a God who is kinder, smarter, and more loving not? Moreover, if a normal, loving parent would never respond in a way that is cruel, demeaning, or callous to the entreaties of his or her child, again would a loving God respond worse?
This is important because sometimes when I pray I do wonder if God is going to do something, make some response, and what would it be? Only on occasion is it what I specifically asked for. But if I believe that God loves me, cares about me not just like a parent cares for a child but better, then Jesus is right to console us that God is listening to us, responding in ways that we may not be able to imagine or perceive, and that response is one that is fundamentally characterized by love.