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, “And when praying, do not babble on like the heathen, for they think that by means of their many words they will be heard.  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.