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Friends, in today’s Gospel, Jesus gives us this assurance about answered prayer: “Amen, amen, I say to you, whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you.”

If God cannot change, what is the point of asking him for anything? And if God is omniscient, what is the point of telling him what you need? The same Jesus who told us to ask and ask again also informed us that God “knows what you need before you ask him.”

One way to shed light on this problem is to refer to the biblical master-metaphor for God—namely, the parent. Parents hear petitions from their children constantly, persistent requests for things, some good and some quite bad—and decent parents know what their child needs long before she asks for it.

God indeed knows everything about everything and so obviously is aware of what we need before we ask; yet still, like a good parent, he delights in hearing our requests—and like a good parent, he does not always respond the way we would like him to.