The idea of reciprocity is a key concept in many pagan religions. We give to the Gods so that They, in return, might give to us.
Unfortunately, many people seem to view this as a “quid pro quo” arrangement along the lines of: “Oh Great Spaghetti Monster* here are your meatballs. Now fix my life.”
Reciprocity doesn’t work like that.
I think of it this way: I give a birthday present to my friend because I like her, I like to make her happy, and it strengthens our friendship – not because I expect something in return. When my birthday rolls around, she might be more inclined to give me a gift. But she might not – she might be short on cash, or maybe she forgot. Maybe she just doesn’t do birthdays, but may do something nice for me on another occassion.
The Gods are not obliged to give us anything, regardless of what offerings and sacrifices we make. What we should hope to accomplish by giving offerings is to forge a relationship with Them, one in which reciprocity is a natural result of good will. This can be anything from a liege/vassal or patron/client arrangement something more personal depending on our beliefs and our Gods. However, like with the people in our lives, it is the relationship that should be our focus, not what we can get out of it.
The Gods may or may not accept our offerings. If accepted, They may or may not choose to grant our requests. Maybe They don’t think its as important as we do, or They want us to stand on our own feet, or They have something else in mind.
Or maybe They just don’t do birthday presents.
(*Not to imply anyone is praying to a made up deity. “Great Spaghetti Monster” just sounds more interesting that “God X.”)