I was yesterday struck by a dimension of the parable of the prodigal son that I hadn't noticed before: prayer. The younger son asks for two outrageous things—his inheritance ahead of time and being received back—and in both cases his requests are granted (in the latter case, he gets more than he asked for, since he is not asking for his sonship). The older son complains that he never got a young goat to eat with his friends. But it is clear that he never bothered to ask for one. After all, the father says: "all that is mine is yours." (The younger son reminds me a little of Mrs. Fidget in C. S. Lewis's Four Loves, who quietly works her fingers to the bone, suffering for others in ways that they don't want her to. Mrs. Fidget, too, would not bother asking you to come back by a certain time—she would just stay up and wait.)
Maybe the older son could try to complain: "But didn't you know that I wanted a goat?" However, a request is not just the expression of a desire: a request has normative effects that a mere desire does not.