Jesus enters into the rather vexing territory of prayer and why some prayers are heard with God’s affirming “yes” and some of our prayers never seem to be heard. The conversation begins with a simple request from Jesus’ disciples, “Teach us to pray”. Notice, the question isn’t about why we should pray or about how to get the best results when we pray, but a simple request about pray itself. Jesus responds with a model of Christian prayer which we call the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father”. The second part of the gospel raises a question: is this an example of how God responds to our prayers or is it an instruction about how people who pray should respond to the requests of others? We could read it both ways and Jesus’ ambiguity is probably intended. So we can read the second part of the gospel as a description of what the perfect Christian community looks like.
Imagine a community in which the one who asks is given a response that assists them; imagine a community in which the searcher finds what he or she is looking for; imagine a community in which the one who knocks always finds an open door. Perhaps this kind of community is far too accommodating, but I wonder if Jesus’ point is that people who pray for their own intentions always need to be alert to the prayers of others. Maybe one reason why God does not always respond to our prayers in the way that we hope is because we can forget that we all have a part to play in the workings of God. We sometimes forget or fail to notice how we can be an answer to the prayers of others. We are the ones who are called to answer “yes” to those who are asking, or to those who are searching or knocking. If we say “yes” to others more often, or at least have a more open heart, maybe God would not have to work so hard to say “yes” to each of us. Fr. Anthony