Dear Friends and Prayer Partners,
Prayer always has this very peculiar dynamic to it, in that we are speaking to an all-knowing God! So, you can never tell Him something in prayer that He does not already know.
Now we should not over-think this. Prayer in its essence is simply having a conversation with God. And this conversing must always begin on our part with humbling ourselves before an all-knowing, all-powerful Creator God, and praising Him for his infinite goodness.
At the start of Matthew chapter six, we find Jesus saying something very helpful about praying to an omniscient God. Here, he is explaining that the Father does not like long or repetitive public prayers, but rather private pleas made from the heart. Then he adds: “For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8) This comforting thought is then followed by the model for all our prayers – the Lord’s Prayer.
Note that the focus is not on God knowing all things – which can be intimidating. Rather, Jesus says the Father already knows what you have need of before you even ask. That makes it something very personal and reassuring. God knows each of us and what we need and is just waiting for us to humbly approach Him about it.
I remember on my second visit to Israel back in 1983, my mother and I came upon two small Arab boys in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, near the old dividing line between east and west Jerusalem. The older boy was riding a decent bicycle, but the younger one had a rusted-out bike frame with totally bent handlebars and rims. And he was digging through the rubble of the former ‘no man’s land’ looking for a piece of barbed wire to try and turn it into a chain for the bike. It was a quite hopeless exercise, and I felt much pity for this Arab boy. So, I laid my hands on him and began to pray: “Lord, give him the de…”
Now before I could even get the sentence out, the Lord instantly interrupted my prayer and insisted: “No! You give him the desire of his heart!”
I knew I needed to obey the Lord, so I gave up the last of my candy-and-soda money to have a nearby shop fix up a bike for that little boy. But I also learned that day that God indeed knows what we are going to pray before we even ask it.
Thus, like the Apostle Paul, I readily acknowledge that we do not always know what we ought to be praying for (Romans 8:26). And as the epistle of James adds, we often pray amiss because we are seeking our own desires (James 4:2-3).
Jesus taught us this highly important lesson in his other ‘model prayer’ – the one he offered in agony in Gethsemane, saying: “O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.” (Matthew 26:39)
When we pray, we must realize we are praying from our own limited knowledge and understanding, and so often from our own wants and desires. And ultimately, our prayers should always take us to a place of surrendering our will to that of the Father, who knows and seeks the best outcome for us.
May the Spirit of the Lord inform, inspire and empower your prayers this coming month.
Blessings from Jerusalem!
Vice President & Senior Spokesman
International Christian Embassy Jerusalem