Thinking about dua reminded me of an old joke. Go ahead and groan, you probably have heard it before. A guy goes to church every week, and every week he kneels in the pew and says, “Lord, please let me win the lottery.” Week after week he returns and makes the same prayer. Finally, one day he hears a reverberating voice say, “Come on, buddy, you gotta at least meet me halfway – go buy a ticket!”
As stale a joke as that is, I swear I had almost the same thing happen to me in real life. I was a guest at the home of an old broke-down dervish in beautiful Sri Lanka, and almost every day he would say to me how he wished he could win the lottery. He assured me it was not out of greed or some other base motive; he just wanted to build a small masjid in the corner of his property, so he could make his prayers in a clean and sanctified place, and so his guests would have better lodging than his old palm fibre mattress or a sheet spread outside on the sand. Finally one day when we were out at the market, I asked him if he’d ever bought a lottery ticket. No, he confessed. So I insisted to buy him a few tickets right on the spot. If God willed, I told him, he’d win right then, and if not, then he knew it was not meant to be and he could quit grousing. He wasn’t all that happy about when I bought the tickets, and he was a lot less happy than that when we scratched off the silver and he hadn’t won a thing.