In the Holy Bible, there are two types of occasions where Jesus does not respond positively to prayers.
Occasions of Praying in the Wrong Way
One is where a group of people ask Jesus to perform some miracles in their town. They asked Jesus to perform some miracles as they wanted to get excited by the miracles. None of them had a personal need or desire for a miracle. (Lk. 4:23, 23:8).
The second is where people ask Jesus to do something by complaining about somebody. ‘Now as they went on their way, he entered a certain village, where a woman named Martha welcomed him into her home. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he was saying. But Martha was distracted by her many tasks; so she came to him and asked, ‘Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the work by myself? Tell her then to help me.’ But the Lord answered her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and distracted by many things.’ (Lk. 10:38-41).
Here Martha is going to Jesus with a grievance. But she does not get any solutions from Jesus. But she gets only some advice from Jesus. The real need Martha had was that Martha should be able to do her work easily. And Martha should have prayed, ‘Jesus, I am burdened with a lot of work. Please make my work easy.’ Even though the grievance of Martha was genuine, she did not ask Jesus to redress her grievance. Martha did not have genuine desire to get her grievance redressed. Instead, Martha wanted and chose to blame it upon Mary, and she chose to put Mary also into the same trouble as she was facing.
Jesus did not grant what Martha had asked for. But Jesus chose to counsel her. The meaning of what Jesus told Martha was: Do not blame Mary for your troubles in life; your problems are results of your worries and distractions; Mary has no role in your facing problems; Mary is not the cause of your troubles; above all, the solution you have suggested is not going to solve your problems; stop being worried and distracted by many things, and your problems will be solved.
‘Someone in the crowd said to him, ‘Teacher, tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me.’ But he said to him, ‘Friend, who set me to be a judge or arbitrator over you?’ (Lk 12:13-14). Again, the person who approaches Jesus is complaining about his brother. The genuine grievance he had might have been his poverty. He should have asked Jesus, ‘I am very poor. Give me enough wealth.’ But he chose to blame it upon his brother. And he wanted to get a share from the property which he had kept with him, thought illegally. Instead of trying to get his grievance redressed, he was worried about criticizing and making his brother upright.
So, instead of granting what he had asked for, Jesus counsels him: I am not going to judge and find fault with somebody as you wanted; that what you have asked me to do; do not lay the blame on your brother for your troubles; he is not the cause of your problems; and what you have suggested is not the solution for your real problems.
Prayer is not complaining
This is the way we generally pray. A wife complains about her husband to Jesus. A mother in law complains about her daughter in law to Jesus. A father complains about his son to Jesus. A son complains about his father to Jesus. A parishioner complains about his vicar to Jesus. A student complains about his teacher to Jesus and vice versa. But nobody tells Jesus his real need. And the only response from Jesus to this type of prayers is some counseling. And all say that Jesus does not heed their prayers.
So, it is very important that I pray to Jesus the right way. If our prayer is a blaming somebody for our trouble, be sure we are never going to be granted our prayer. It is not at all permissible for us to tell Jesus that somebody is the cause of our problems. When we approach Jesus, we should just tell him that we are facing this problem, and we want you to solve this problem of ours. And if we pray in this way, we can be damn sure that our problem will be solved.
– – – written by Adv. Shibu Varghese