BEFORE YOU ASK

Anticipating needs is an important skill in many of our lives whether it be at work or home.

  • Can you think of anyone in your life who knows your needs even before you ask them for help?
  • If so, how did this person come to know your needs even before you ask them for assistance?
  • How does Matthew 6:8 speak to this in our relationship with God?

ESV  Matthew 6:8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

This verse occurs in the context of Jesus’ teaching on how a worshipper of the God of Israel should pray in marked contrast to those who do not.

Review Matthew 6:5-7

ESV  Matthew 6:5-7 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

Again, in Matthew 6:8, Jesus repeats “do not be like them” in reference to the heaping up of empty phrases practice of those who do not worship God mentioned in Matthew 6:7.

Jesus further tells us the reason for why we do not need to babble incessantly with God.

God, referred to as “your Father”,  in Matthew 6:8, already knows your needs before you ask Him.

How is this possible?

Consider these words from Psalm 139 that are speaking to God:

ESV  Psalm 139:13-16 For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. 14 I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. 16 Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.

Also consider this verse from Genesis:

ESV  Genesis 2:7 then the LORD God formed the man of dust from the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living creature.

It is possible for God, “your Father”, to know your needs before you ask because He created you.

Matthew 6:8 is reminding us that  “your Father”, God is the source of your very existence. Thus, He knows your every need before you ask.

Why are we instructed to pray to God then?

Think again about how certain family, friends or coworkers can anticipate your needs.

What have they done that enabled them to have this ability?

Most likely these family, friends or coworkers anticipate your needs before you ask them because they have spent time with you on a regular basis.

These family, friends or coworkers are also likely to be good listeners when you speak and share your heart with them.

Thus, over time, you have likely developed a sense of trust with them and have been even more open with them than anyone else.

Bottom line, you have a close relationship with these people.

How about God?

God created you. He knows everything about you before you do.

  • Could it be He desires our prayers not because He needs to learn about our needs but because He knows our needs better than we do?
  • Could it be He desires our prayers because He knows we need someone like Him who knows us better than we know ourselves that is trustworthy and loyal?
  • Could it be He desires our prayers because He desires us to seek His counsel since He knows our needs already?

Now consider these words of Paul:

ESV  Romans 8:26-28 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Take note especially of the phrase, “for we do not know what to pray for as we ought” from the verses above.

We do not need to babble incessantly with God to appease or remind Him of our needs.

He knows our needs before we ask.

We are instructed to pray in order that we may be open to His intercession and guidance on what are deepest needs are that we are unable to put into words ourselves.

We are instructed to pray to reveal our trust in Him.

Reflection Questions:

  • If you have been harmed by an earthly father or know someone who has, how could using the definition of Father as the source of creation help you or them?
  • Do you trust God? Why or why not?
  • How can you demonstrate to God that you trust Him with your needs?
  • Are you open to God’s guidance in training you to see His will for your needs?
  • Are you willing to pray to God in the same manner that Jesus did on the night of his betrayal?

ESV  Matthew 26:39 And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”

  • What do you learn from Jesus’ example of trust in sharing His heart with God, His Father, even though Jesus knew He was about to be betrayed and crucified?
  • What other reasons can you think of for praying to God?

I encourage you to spend some additional time either listening to the song Word of God Speak by MercyMe or pondering the lyrics as you continue to consider why the God of creation desires us to spend time praying to Him even though He knows your needs before you ask.

Leave a comment on the blog to generate some group discussion. I would love to hear from you!

Email me at [email protected] if you have a private question.

We will continue our study on prayer in Matthew 6:9 next week.

Blessings,

Barbara Lynn

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