anything but a reason not to pray

“God knows what you need before you ask him (because he knows everything). So why bother asking?”

It’s a fairly common thought. Perhaps you’ve entertained it yourself.

I definitely have.

Which is why I was blown away when I read this in preparation for a talk I was giving last week:

‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.’

It’s from Matthew 6.7-8 — and these are the words with which Jesus introduces the distinctively Christian framework for prayer that we know as the Lord’s Prayer.

But isn’t it fascinating? The idea that our heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask him is actually the reason we should pray in a particular way.

Christians don’t pray because we feel they need to hit on just the right ‘magic words’ to get God’s attention — or badger him into doing what we want him to do. Or at least we shouldn’t.

We don’t have to be like Bart and Lisa in that classic Simpsons episode where they totally wear their parents down by endless repeating: “Can you take us to Mount Splashmore?”

No. Our prayers express our relationship with God. Better, they put it into action.

And the relationship they enact is one in which God, our perfect parent, knows what will be best for us — and is able to supply it.

So far from being a reason not to pray, God’s knowing what we need before we ask him is excellent motivation to turn to our heavenly Father with our needs!

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