Updated: Aug 24, 2019
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:7-8)
Today's verse teaches us something key about prayer and about God. Unlike humans who need to hear many sweet words to give others attention or even other ‘gods’ of that time who needed great rituals, prayer to God is short and simple. God knows what we need; we don't necessarily have to tell our needs to God.
This, taken in context with the rest of the chapter, gives us some insight into what God expects from the relationship. Rather than a showy relationship between a lord and their servants, it is a wise father who looks favourably on his children in private.
What He wants is not glamorous presentation, but simply that we go to him in prayer and lay our burdens down. He knows what we need and will provide for us; we need only ask that He give us our daily bread.
The chapter talks about different practices made by the Pharisees and those who are hypocritical. They present a pleasant image of what it means to worship God but do so in order to gain favour with those around them who witness such prayers and fasts. Jesus instead tells us that those people will not gain anything from God.
We don't need to show off what we have to others to get God's attention. God knows beyond all things what we are doing. Outside of Christianity, the idea is always to make known our achievements and our actions so that we can get credit for them. And you should, while giving glory to God. But when it comes to our personal relationship with God, that's something that shouldn't just be paraded to the world to get their acknowledgment.
The individual whose acknowledgment matters is no longer an employer's or the friends around us, but God. So instead of trying to get noticed by others, we do things that God only will notice because he knows what we are doing.
Our prayer life should be no different. We don't have to fill our prayers with elaborate explanations of what we need and pepper God up with flattery. God knows what we know and more. Instead, we should pray earnestly and simply, having faith that God will provide.
It takes someone with a skilled tongue to praise; but it takes someone with humble faith to pray a simple prayer and believe that God will take care of everything.
Daniel is currently and forevermore will be a student and a learner, trying to delve into the deep conundrums of life and seeing where the path leads. He enjoys linking different things in life back to God through strange and seemingly random connections.