“Our Father in heaven . . . give us today our daily bread” (Matthew 6:9,11).
I have prayed these words thousands of times. Not once did I think, “He knows what I need. I shouldn’t have to ask.” But when my big, strapping kids were lying on the couch and the sidewalk needed to be shoveled, that is exactly what I thought: “They know what needs to be done. I shouldn’t have to ask.”
Asking isn’t generally a sticking point between us and God. It is the essence of our communication with him. We do it all the time without feeling resentful. But it can be a trouble spot among people, especially between parents and their teenage children. Sometimes we expect more omniscience and sovereign willpower from awkward humanoids fighting their way through puberty than we expect from God himself. We think they should routinely quiet their hormones, focus their distracted thoughts, overcome the exhaustion they feel from growing so fast, and simply volunteer to do what needs to be done.
That is an unfortunate mind game we don’t need to play. So, the next time the dishwasher needs to be unloaded or a load of their undies needs to go into the washing machine, fight the urge to say something sarcastic like, “Your clothes aren’t going to wash themselves.” Muffle the exasperated voice in your own head. If the ultimate goal is getting them to do something you want done—again—why not just ask?