Here’s a great Christmas-themed illustration from Spurgeon on prayer. I’ve nothing that would substantively add to the metaphor here, so I’ll just quote it, and add a couple of pertinent Scripture passages:
I HAVE heard that in the old times in England, on Christmas morning, the poor villagers were wont to call at the house of the lord of the manor, each one with his basin [bucket], which it was the custom to fill to the brim. I warrant you the basins grew sensibly larger every year, till one would think they had rather brought the bushel measure from the barn than the basin from the cupboard. It was wise of the poor folk, for his lordship could not do less than fill whatever they brought. Alas! we are not so wise, but we rather lessen our vessels than increase their size. Ye have not because ye ask not, or because ye ask amiss.
Source: C. H. Spurgeon, Flashes of Thought (London: Passmore & Alabaster, 1874), 321.
James 4:2-3, “You do not have because you do not ask. You ask and don’t receive because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your evil desires.”
1 John 5:14-15, “Now this is the confidence we have before Him: Whenever we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears whatever we ask, we know that we have what we have asked Him for.“
One more prayer related nugget of Spurgeony goodness from the same book:
IF your heart be cold in prayer, do not restrain prayer until your heart warms, but pray your soul unto heat by the help of the ever-blessed Spirit who helps our infirmities. If the iron be hot then hammer it, and if it be cold hammer it till you heat it. Never cease prayer for any sort of reason or argument. If the philosopher should tell you that every event is fixed, and therefore prayer cannot possibly change anything, and, consequently, must be folly; still, if you cannot answer him and are somewhat puzzled, go on with your prayings notwithstanding all. No difficult problem concerning digestion would prevent your eating, for the result justifies the practice, and so no quibble should make us cease prayer, for the assured success of it commends it to us.