In Matt 6:7-8 Jesus tells us not to “keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” Jesus was speaking about people who with verbose prayers think an audience with God is guaranteed by the quantity of words used. Jesus tells us not to do that because he is looking at the motive behind our words i.e. to try and manipulate God into answering. Addressing this fear of not being heard, He points out, in verse 8, that we need to remember that the Father “already knows what you need before you ask Him.”
People often use that last verse to question the need for prayer. Jesus is not saying, there is no point to prayer, God already knows it all. No, Jesus is pointing out the relationship that exists, that of Father and children.
A good Father knows what His children need before they ask Him. A good Father cares and wants to provide for His children, He longs to hear of their need, wants to meet their requests and longs to be involved in the lives of His children. Jesus speaks to a relational position.
Like a good Father we as His children can freely come to Him with our needs without feeling the need to manipulate Him. In fact Jesus describes the Father’s goodness in Matt 7:7-8, when Jesus asks:
“What Father would not give his son what he has asked for. If we, though we are evil, know how to give good gifts to our children, how much more would our Father give good gifts to those who ask?” Jesus always speaks about the relationship between us and the Lord, like a father-son relationship. We are not lowly scum that has to beg, we are His children.
Jesus wants us to understand our relational position, when we come to the Lord in prayer.
When we fail to understand our position as children when we pray, we will find ourselves not praying, using lots of words, flowery speech and begging the Lord, pleading with Him repeatedly.
Our Father will not necessarily give us everything we ask for, but will give us what is good for us, just like an earthly father would do. An earthly father, if it is possible to meet the needs of his child, would not withhold a request from the child. God too, if He is able (which He is) would not withhold every good and perfect gift from us if we should ask. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17)
Jesus points out, as one bible commentator says, that the approach to the Father should NOT be based on “the idea that he is uninformed, totally unaware of your needs so that you have to give him lengthy explanations”. Jesus needs his followers to understand that the Father is aware of our needs in much the same way that a caring parent is aware of the needs of their child and can therefore be freely approached in sincere prayer by the child.
God is aware of and knows our needs and by understanding our relational position, we start to build confidence in our ability to come to the Lord in prayer. Christ condemns a spirit of fear and distrust that does not recognise this loving Father-child relationship and further believes that God needs to be properly “informed” as to our needs and placated with many prayers before our needs will be met.
We need to recognise the Father heart of God and start praying like His beloved children.
Lord, when I come to You in prayer, I often forget who You say I am in Your word. I am Your child and as Your child You care about me and my life and are intimately involved in all that is happening. Please forgive me for times that I have tried to manipulate You in prayer, times that I have whined and groveled in Your presence. Help me to focus on the love-relationship between us, to come confidently as a child that is loved, with the expectation of having my needs met and that in all of life, You want good things for me, because You are a good father.
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