Prayers & Clarinets

The day started out like an ordinary school day. But after lunch our fourth-grade class remained in the cafeteria for a special presentation. The school’s band director had set up all the various band instruments. We curiously gathered around them and took our seats on the floor.

He moved from one to another, playing a tune on each. And then he said we could choose to play an instrument and be in the school band. I was particularly drawn to the flute and its pretty, lilting tones. But after the demonstration, my best friend, Andrea, said she was going to play the clarinet. Meanwhile, the class mean girl, Robin, had chosen the flute. My decision was made.

Racing home, I burst through the front door and ran straight to the kitchen, where my mom was busy with dinner prep. As I told her all about the band demonstration, and that for only $150 I could have my own clarinet, she shook her head. It wasn’t going to happen. Harold Hill I was not. One hundred fifty dollars was two months of mortgage payments (remember, I’m old). But all hope was not lost. She said I could ask my father. If he would give the money, she would sign the permission slip.

With renewed hope, I hopped on my gold sting ray and pedaled as fast as I could to his house. It was only a couple of blocks away, giving me little time to work out my sales pitch.

Ditching my bike in the front yard, I darted up the porch steps. As my dad opened the door, I launched into my three-point pitch in favor of the clarinet. He let me tell him the whole story with a big smile across his face. He asked a few questions. Of course, I had all the answers. Then his smile grew even bigger as he said, “Yes, I’ll give you the money for a clarinet.” I was so excited! I could hardly wait to tell Andrea. My prayers had been answered.

Unbeknownst to me, my mother had called my father and warned him of my imminent arrival and what I was going to ask. So, before I even asked him, he knew why I coming to him. He also knew he was going to say yes. But he let me go ahead and ask, and then with great joy, he granted my request.

That true story is not far off from how our heavenly Father answers our prayers. God always knows what’s on our hearts before we tell him. And he is ready to act. It boggles my mind that the God of the universe, who can do whatever he wants whenever he wants to, waits for his children ask him. Then I picture him with great joy granting our requests.

But our prayers don’t need to be a sales pitch. Even when we don’t know how to pray, his Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26). It gives him great joy to answer our prayers because he is a loving Father who only gives good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:11) What a relief that I can run to him anytime with my requests, and he is ready to answer.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8 ESV)

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