Matthew 6:8, “your Father knows before you ask him”

In Matthew 6, Jesus speaks a lot on prayer: method, appropriate time and place, and even gives us an example of how we should pray. I was struck today by verse 8. Jesus said, “[7]And when praying, do not babble on like the heathen, for they think that by means of their many words they will be heard. [8] Therefore, do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

The fact that the Father knows what we need before we ask is very reassuring. I find it interesting that Jesus doesn’t say, “Don’t bother praying, because the Father already knows what you need.” The exhortation is, “Don’t babble on and on . . . for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”

It’s all about humility, isn’t it? Earlier in Matt 6 Jesus warns us not to blow the trumpet to announce our charitable acts. And we’re to pray in secret with the door closed behind us rather than shouting out in the street. Jesus is communicating how prayer is to function. It’s not a show, it’s an enactment of humility before the Father. Of course he doesn’t need to be told what we need to live; he made life afterall. We are to do good deeds, but not for our own glorification. The Father sees what goes on in secret, and he rewards those who do righteous things when there is no one to watch. Those who ‘peacock’ about have attention as their only reward.

This seems to be really a call for honest intent. The idea is to be righteous in the sight of God rather than super-duper in the sight of men. Perhaps a little bit like marriage versus dating. There is so much pressure to be doing the right things and saying the right things and being the right things when two people are getting to know one another. But once that superficiality is stripped away, and a husband and wife can simply go about living life together, their efforts together are real and not for show. The result is a rich interaction in which love is the point and service is the means.

Anyway, I was greatly impressed (once again) by Matthew 6:8, and am deeply grateful to have been provided life by a God who knows how to take care of me, and who is interested in the way I live the life he has placed in me.

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3 Comments

Filed under Two Year GNT

3 responses to “Matthew 6:8, “your Father knows before you ask him”

  1. Tyler Evans

    Luke,

    I think its also significant that that in the New Age, Jesus’ followers are not simply given all license to interact with the Father however they see fit. They are instructed and shown how there is a proper, orderly way to bring requests/praise to the Father and, more importantly, there is a wrong way to come to the Father.

    I wonder if somehow, Christians of the 21st century have understood the phrase “freedom in Christ” (Gal 5:1ff) to understand that we are now free to come to the King of the universe as we please (or as the song says, “just as you are”). This seems to be an abuse of the allowance we have been given by the Father under Christ.

  2. Tyler Evans

    okay, this isn’t related, but its awesome

    yesterday in NT Theology. Dr. Moo was talking about the “New Perspective” on Paul (NT Wright/Dunn) and how it was influenced by E.P. Sanders work on 1st century Judaism and at the end of his thought he said, “I would much rather be in theological bed with Jimmy Dunn and NT Wright than…..wait…..no…I didn’t mean that” it was awesome. anyways, that’s my story. talk to you later

    Tyler

  3. Luke Johnson

    That’s hilarious! Wow, good to know even scholars at that level can make humorous slip ups!

    A memorable quote of Marty Culy’s so far from Greek Exegesis II came as his reply to someone who quoted what Mounce said about verbal aspect. To the mention of Mounce, Marty replied, “Mounce is a disaster.”

    Sounds like Wheaton classes are rich AND fun!
    Talk to you later,

    Luke

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