WHEN IS PRAYER “SUCCESSFUL”?
“So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. If a son asks for bread from any father among you, will he give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent instead of a fish? Or if he asks for an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!” (Lk 11: 9-13)
Does the “success” of our prayers depend on our “righteousness”? No, as the Lord explains above. “Success” in prayer, as Christ understands it, is reception of the Holy Spirit, i.e., communion with the living God, Who is the Source and Sun of Righteousness. Any “righteousness” comes from Him and in Him; in connection/communion with Him. And “everyone,” the Lord assures us, who asks and seeks and “knocks” for the Holy Spirit and His gifts, receives. And note that, just as the Lord makes these assurances, He does not presume we are “righteous” people. No, He explicitly calls us “evil”: “If you then, being evil…,” He says in this very passage. So, what “success” depends upon, in prayer, is not “our” righteousness, but just doing it, – praying.
So today let me pray, however I can, and however un-righteous I happen to be. God isn’t out to give me a “stone” or a “serpent” or a “scorpion.” What He offers me is Himself, inviting me also to offer myself to Him, in heartfelt prayer. Let me do that today, that I may walk through my responsibilities in His light and grace.