Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.
When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
There have been times when, as a parent, we have withheld something from a child until he asked for it specifically. It wasn’t a matter of being a mean parent. Nor was it because we wanted the credit of being the one who provided the needed help. It was for the sake of our son and his brothers. We wanted them to see the benefit of acknowledging their need for our help and appreciate our love for them.
Would that not also be true for God and our relationship with him? God knows our thoughts and the words we will say even before we speak them. God knows our needs before we ask of him in prayer. We need neither convince him of our needs, nor say our prayers in any sort of proper prayer parlance. He even provides for our needs without our prayer – giving daily bread, forgiving our sins, guiding our paths by his providential care.
So why pray? What good does it do? Four reasons come to mind.
- God commands us to pray. Jesus says, “when you pray…” He also says, “Ask and it will be given you…”
- God promises to answer prayers. In fact, James 4:2 tells us that we “do not have because [we] do not ask.”
- Prayer reminds us of our need for God’s loving care. It’s easy to forget that we need God 24/7; and that God’s goodness and faithful lovingkindness is precious and highly valuable.
- Prayer honors God. When we pray we acknowledge God’s gracious love, his providential care, and his mighty power. Of all the reasons to pray, this seems to me to be the most noble and worthy. I truly do wish to honor God, and when I pray I hope that I do just that.