Your Father knows what you need, then why ask?

This post is Number 26 in the Sermon on the Mount Series.

In reading through Matthew 6, this evening I read two verses which raised a question. They are these:

“. . . your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Pray then in this way . . .” (Matthew 6:8b-9a)

Copyright: bialasiewicz / 123RF Stock Photo

The question is, why should we pray if God already knows what we need? It is not like I am going to provide God with a missing piece of data without which he could not make a good choice.

Also, when we look at the way that Jesus interacted with humanity, his behavior does not reveal a God who is reluctant to meet the needs of those who are seeking him. So the assumption in verse 8b is that God knows what you need and is more than willing to provide it. Later in the same sermon Jesus tells us that we are not to worry because God will take care of his people.

Why then are we to ask?

I think that we are to ask because through prayer, God grants us the dignity of participating in bringing about God’s will for humanity. He chooses to work through our prayers, even though he could accomplish his purpose without them.

It is a little bit like asking a 4 year old to help you paint the house. The little tyke will be excited about working with Dad, but won’t really contribute much that will benefit the house. Allowing the 4 year old to “help” grants him a dignity that he would not otherwise have.

Because God wants to be in relationship with us, he chooses to let us “help” him get his business done. He enjoys the fact that we come to him to ask for what we need.

Sometimes we are mistaken in what we think we need. But God, being the perfect father, will use the process of praying to shape our desires. Even when we ask for things that are not right for us, God will patiently answer our prayer. If it is not right for us, he will answer in the negative, but it is the correct answer.

I am thankful that I am ecouraged to bring my requests to God. I can do so knowing that even if what I am asking is wrong, he will make it right.

I’ll close with the first verse of an old hymn:

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
Everything to God in prayer!