I was struck today by the times when we need to ask for things even if the other person wants to give them to us. I needed a sitter for a few hours, and knew that grandma had nothing planned for the afternoon. I knew with mathematical certitude that she wanted to help out, and that she would not see it as an imposition. But I still had to ask her if she would take the kids. I couldn’t very well just drop them off and count on her goodwill.
The realization brought to mind an argument that has been doing the rounds in certain atheist circles: “if God wants me to convert, and he really is all-powerful, then he can come and convert me”. Mortimer Adler spent much of his life giving a variant on the argument, namely that he wasn’t a Christian because God hadn’t given him faith. Both arguments presume (heh) that if God really wants us to change, then it’s his job to come and change us, and to do this irrespective of what we ask him to do. This might make some sense if salvation were a divine duty, the way that fixing the sewer pipes is the duty of the city. Generally, if salvation were a matter of justice it might make sense to get indignant about God not simply showing up and saving everybody, or to wait around for him to show up and save us. But salvation is not a matter of justice.
An argument like this might also have value in showing the reason for the prayer of petition.