I’ve often heard people scoffing about the kind of people who pray for God to provide them with a good parking spot.
These people seem to see God as some kind of supernatural philanthropist, granting answers to prayer if they are “worthy ” enough. To them, the idea of God having the time or inclination to help people with something as frivolous as a parking spot is ridiculous. Don’t they know there are starving children in the world? Terrorists destroying homes and families? Surely God has better things to do…
Then there are those who feel quite comfortable asking God for a premium parking spot, or anything else that pops into their heads. To these people, God is a happy-go-lucky genie, passively staying in his magic lamp until you beckon him to shorten the queue at the cafe or put in a good word for you at the job interview.
But you know what – I’ve asked God for a good parking spot before, and even thanked him for providing one when I didn’t ask! And I’ve also asked him to bring comfort, relief and provision to those who are suffering horribly locally and around the world.
I don’t think these two kinds of prayer are in conflict. Here’s why:
God is a Good Father
Jesus tells us to pray to God as “Our Father in Heaven” and Paul tells us that if we are in Christ, we have been adopted into “sonship”. If we are Christians, then God is our father.
Here’s the thing about good fathers, they care about the big stuff and the trivial stuff. I’ve called my dad to ask him where would be the best spot to plant my tomatoes and to tell him I’m pregnant. He had no more “time” for one phone call than for the other. He loves to hear from me at all.
This is how it is with God. I talk to him about all kinds of stuff, the big things and the little things.
He delights to hear it all.
God Gives Good Gifts
(Sorry, went a bit overboard on the alliteration there, lol!)
Not only does God care about the trivial things in our life, he delights to use them to bring us joy (if we are paying attention).
James 1:17 says that
Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.
Got a great parking spot? You can thank God for that!
Beautiful sunrise? You can thank God for that!
A peaceful moment where all the kids are playing happily? You can thank God for that!
Lightbulb moment with that impossible problem at work? You can thank God for that!
God does not have Limited Resources
What about the idea that God is too busy to deal with our insignificant car park requests because there are many, many more pressing matters for him to attend to?
Well, this would make sense if God had limited capabilities like humans do.
As a mother, I’m very familiar with the need to prioritise.
If my daughter asks me to come look a fascinating blade of grass, but the baby just woke up screaming and my middle boy just walked into the table and bumped his head, then I’m not going to have time for that blade of grass. (I may even feel inwardly frustrated at the request!)
But it’s not like that for God. He doesn’t have a limited amount of time or energy to give out.
Helping someone find a parking spot does not take his attention away from other things!
God Wants a Relationship with Us
It all comes down to relationship.
Because of my intimate relationship with God, it just makes sense to me to talk to Him, whether I am grieved by the latest horrible thing in the news or really hoping for a parking spot close to the doors. This is the way I “pray without ceasing” – I carry on a continuous conversation with God throughout my day, spanning many different topics.
Have you been saved by Jesus, do you call God your father?
If you do, then he has all the time in the world to hear from you about the big things and the small things.
If you don’t, then you have bigger issues than a parking spot to deal with.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Come to God, confess that you need his forgiveness and be welcomed into the family.