Journal Entry // June 13, 2023
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (ESV)Matthew 6:8
In contrast to the heaping up of empty, mindless prayers that are designed to force God to hear and acquiesce to the request of the person, Jesus gives a simple truth that should not only inform our prayer lives but should encourage us as we approach the throne of God with confidence and humility. Our prayers should be filled with the knowledge and trust that we are speaking to our heavenly Father who loves us and cares for us more deeply and richly than we deserve or can comprehend. This alone should be enough for us to come humbly before our Father in prayer but Jesus goes further and tells us that our Father hears us and already knows what we need before we even ask. I would suggest he knows what we need before we even know what we need. So Jesus is calling us to come before our loving Father with confidence. Trusting and believing that our Father not only hears our prayers but has already prepared an answer designed specifically for each one of us in our unique circumstances.
First, it is vital in my life to truly grasp and understand what it means for me to be a child of the Living God. I am not some generic individual beseeching some distant uncaring being that must be pleased with me to even begin to hear my prayers. I am a child of God. The Creator of the universe is my loving Father. I never have to earn my Father’s love. I never have to perform to get his attention. I never have to plead to bend his will and favor toward me. My Father loves me fully and completely. There is never a moment in my life where my Father is not my Father. There is never a moment where he abandons me or does evil toward me. All of his actions are righteous and good. All of his designs and plans for me are dedicated to the singular purpose of preparing me, molding me, shaping me, and bringing me into conformity to the righteousness of Jesus. He showers me with his love and kindness in every area and circumstance of my life. There is never a moment when I must convince him to pay attention to my words. My loving Father is always ever with me through the Holy Spirit that dwells within my heart.
Second, this ever-present loving Father is not detached from this world and my life. He is fully engaged and continually at work within and around me. There is nothing in this world or in my own life that catches him off guard. There is no circumstance or event that catches him by surprise. Everything is as it should be, even when I don’t understand the purpose or reason. His purposes for me are of a perfect loving Father toward his beloved child. He is fully engaged with my life and truly understands my present and future needs. He understands them far more deeply than I myself understand them. For I am often self-centered and seek only to have God bring me pleasure and happiness for the moment. I want to quickly move from moments of pain and suffering to live fully in the days of personal happiness. My Father’s plan for me is not focused merely on this singular moment and circumstance of my life. My Father’s focus is on the entirety of my life as a runway into an eternity spent before him in heaven. This life is the path designed to shape me and prepare me for this eternal purpose.
So, my Father has all of this in mind as he hears my prayers and petitions. He knows exactly what I need before I even speak a word. Yet, my Father wants me to pray to him. He wants me to be as fully engaged in my life and preparation as he is himself. My Father wants me to come before him and bring my struggles and trials. He wants me to give my burdens to him. My Father wants me to work through all the details and plans for my time on this earth as I learn to live a humble life of faith and obedience. A life of preparation. I easily let myself slip into the basic misunderstanding that all there is in this life is all that I see around me. I stumble around trying to find pleasure and satisfaction in anything and everything. Like the preacher in Ecclesiastes, I look for answers to joy and happiness everywhere under the sun. Jesus is calling me to something greater. He is calling me to properly understand that this life is a journey toward eternal joy. An eternal joy of family and belonging. My Father is preparing me for this eternal joy as he transforms and shapes me in this life.
It is with humble confidence that I am to approach my Father in prayer. There is no need to convince him of my needs. I only need to come before him and seek his good pleasure. Prayer is not a focus on me changing the mind of God, but on my mind being transformed to conform to his. That his desires will be my desires. That his purposes will be my purposes. A life of humble confident prayer is an opportunity for me to enjoy fellowship with my Father and to learn from him. An opportunity for me to be changed and transformed. It is a time for my heart to taste the immeasurable richness of the grace and mercy of God and to yearn for a time where my faith will give way to sight and I will forever be in the presence of the Lord.