You Get What You Pray For

Today’s Gospel, from Luke, is going to be the focus of my reflection. Like most GVM subscribers, you have heard certain Bible stories many times. You may have read them, heard them in church, heard a podcast, or someone told you about them. You may not know the whole reading, but you’ve heard parts, just like certain lines of poetry. The Reflection for October 9th will have a bit of poetry that you may have heard before, especially the last two lines. In the Gospel today, there will be three things that I will write about, all related to prayer. Those topics are persistence, the power of prayer, and Jesus’ sense of humor.


The Gospel encourages us to keep praying for what we think we need. Persistence, like the story of the widow demanding justice in another Bible reading, goes a long way. Keep knocking on the door, as today’s Gospel suggests, and it will be opened eventually. Good things do not always happen overnight, so we need to be persistent in many things. Persistence in diet, exercise, temperance, and yes, even prayer. A wise priest once told me that all prayers are answered. They are either answered right away (no need for persistence in that case), answered when Jesus is ready to answer (persistence needed), or you will receive a different solution to your problem or need. Perhaps that solution is something of which you had never even thought. In general, persistence is going to help you succeed in secular life, and prayer life.

Power of Prayer

Jesus promises us that our prayers will be answered. Jesus does not lie. “Ask and you shall receive.” “Knock, and the door will be opened.” These are lines from the Gospel today that you may remember. As mentioned above, we may not always get the exact answer we were praying for, but we get the solution we were looking for. So, in a sense, you need to be careful of what you pray for, or what you wish for, because it just might happen! God’s way smarter than me, so asking for God’s will to be done helps me, on a personal level. That may not work for everyone, because specificity is also important. I heard of a priest who prayed to be granted a position at the church of a certain saint name, which was in his hometown. According to him, he was assigned to a church by that name, but in the “wrong” town. He said that he did not pray specifically enough.

Sense of Humor

Jesus was overflowing with talent, and his sense of humor helped Him win over converts. In the Gospel, he speaks about parents granting the wishes of their kids. Perhaps a child asks for a fish for a present. A reasonable request, even two thousand years ago. Would that parent then offer a snake, instead? Or the child wanted an egg for breakfast, or a snack. Not a crazy request. But would the father then give the child a scorpion? Of course not, and these examples made me chuckle to myself. The audience could identify with Jesus and providing gifts for children. A scorpion! Come on, you must be joking! As a gifted teacher, the audience then absorbed Jesus’ real message, that even if a normal parent knows how to provide something that the child asks for, wouldn’t the creator of the universe do even better than that? And couldn’t the creator of the universe provide even more gracious gifts? And could not the Holy Spirit be brought upon someone to change the world, to set in on fire. Of course.

In conclusion, let’s try to be persistent in prayer, which is an enormously powerful activity. But be careful because you may get what you pray for.

[Readings: Mal 3:13-20b; Lk 11:5-13]

Paul Verderber

Paul Verderber is a husband, father of two daughters, religious education teacher, fruit and vegetable ingredients salesman, and President of Gratia Vobis Ministries, Inc. He holds both Bachelors and Masters degrees in Chemical Engineering, as well as a Masters in Business. He lives outside of Raleigh, North Carolina and is the President of Gratia Vobis Ministries.

1 Comment

  1. sue on October 7, 2021 at 10:58 am

    I find my answers to the evilness of mankind pales to GOD’S. HE acts out of mercy and love were I just want to destroy. so when I pray I say GOD’S WILL BE DONE, I TRUST IN YOU. and if I need to suffer, so be it. YOU SUFFERED for the sins of mankind and YOUR BLOOD was given to OUR FATHER for our sins. so what is a little suffering or a lot mean, I can offer it up to say other lost souls.

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