Most of us have read this passage from Jesus before and heard plenty of preachers talk about it. You’ve probably noted that we shouldn’t be showy in our prayer life but humble, and that it can be quick and simple and doesn’t have to sound like Shakespeare or a Maya Angelou poem. But there’s a sentence right at the end that has always stuck out to me.
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think 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. “
We believe that God is all-knowing, that he knows and cares for our desires and needs. We believe that God hears our prayers and will answer. And yet somehow that often seems like a fact from a textbook or doctrinal statement but not something real that affects our lives. Something about that verse makes it more realistic and alive to me: whatever you’re praying about, whatever you need, whatever decision you face or trial you’re struggling with: God already knows.
That can lead some to not pray at all, or just say “Well God, you know everything already so please help. In Jesus’ name, Amen.” However, we know that God wants us to pray and share our requests as discussed in my last post.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
When we bring our requests to God, I have found it comforting to keep in mind that He already knows what is in our hearts and what we’re going through. I often vent my problems and frustrations to God even though He knows the situation because it’s part of human nature to want to get things off our chest. God is not judging our prayers with a score card; He enjoys when we take time out to spend with Him.
Consider a child who scrapes their knee. The parent can see what’s happened and knows what to do in order to fix it. The child runs to the parent looking for comfort and tries to explain the problem through cries and trembling. It’s comforting to be able to vent the problem and get a hug from Mom or Dad, have them fix up the scrape with some ointment and a band-aid and be sent back out to play. It builds relationship and trust.
It’s a great comfort to me in my prayer life to know that the Person I’m going to not only knows the situation, but already has the answer. I hope it will encourage you as you seek God in prayer and maybe inspire you to view prayer a little differently.