Plans change, trips fall through, needs arise that we haven’t faced before. A frightening pandemic can cause us to wonder where to turn for truth. Around the world people are reaching out to God, many for the first time, asking for His help. Yet amid all this, the Father hears each one of us when we pray.
Teaching on a Judean hillside with a heart for hurting people that reached to the ends of the earth, Jesus shared timeless truths about the Father. Jesus taught in Matthew 6:5-8 that the Father knows what we need and hears when we ask—not because we pray smoothly in public, with drawn-out supplications, or in any “proper” way. He simply wants us to turn to Him.
In his book Jesus through Middle Eastern Eyes, Kenneth Bailey notes Jesus’ words on prayer, including not trying to get God’s attention by praying “many words.” Bailey relates his experience of being “inundated with words” at an international airport: “At one time, I could clearly hear seven cell phone conversations, two televisions, a public announcement and three departure announcements. It was the first circle of hell.” We don’t need to inundate our Father with words to turn His head toward us.
“Your Father knows what you need.”
In Matthew 6:5-6, Jesus instructed us to keep our prayers simple, not showy, as we pray to our “Father, who is unseen.” We don’t need to be concerned about praying correctly —our unseen but seeing Father knows what we need even before we ask. But He does want us to ask. The apostle Peter writes, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7). You and I can ask for help, trusting Jesus’ words that “your Father knows what you need before you ask” (Matthew 6:8).
God had promised Abraham countless descendants, but Abraham must have worried if it would happen. When God told Abraham to sacrifice the son that he’d waited for into his nineties, Abraham couldn’t have foreseen how God would provide. In obedience and certainly in emotional distress, Abraham prepared to sacrifice Isaac. While he didn’t know what God had in mind, Abraham did know that he had a need and trusted that God would keep His promise through Isaac. Then God stopped the knife and Abraham spotted the ram caught in the thicket. After that, Abraham called the place, “The Lord Will Provide” (Genesis 22:13-14).
Our Father specializes in knowing our needs before we do. The Father knows our needs and concerns before we pray, but He still wants us to trust Him enough to bring them to Him. Our 2020 plans have changed. Even more, our lives may change, or the lives of people we know. We face new challenges with uncertainty about just how God will provide. But He will provide, in His way and His time. We can bring our concerns to the Father who cares and knows what we need. He just wants us to ask.