When you pray, what do you pray for? When we were young, a lot of our prayers probably sounded similar to a letter to Santa Clause, “Dear God, I’ve been really good this year, so if you’re not too busy, I could really use that new red bicycle.” But as we mature, our prayers often turn to prayers of concern for others – for our loved ones in the hospital, for healing, for peace, etc. Sometimes we don’t get that new bike. Sometimes we don’t receive everything that we ask for. And so we ask, “Is somebody even listening?”
In the Gospel story this week, James and John approach Jesus with a very bold petition themselves. They say, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” They wanted to sit at the right and left hand of Jesus in heaven. Bold indeed! I might have expected Jesus to scold them, telling them that is no way to talk to God! After all, God is not our cosmic vending machine, dispensing whatever it is that we ask for.
And even though Jesus does not grant them their request, he listens them. He hears them and talks to them about it. It’s true that when we pray, we won’t always get what we want, but it is also true that God listens. He hears your requests, and in the act of prayer, he transforms you – even if you don’t get that new red bicycle you always wanted.