Your Father knows what you need
Matthew 6:1-24 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven.
2 “So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
9 “Pray, then, in this way:
‘Our Father who is
Hallowed be Your name.
10 ‘Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
On earth as it is in heaven.
11 ‘Give us this day our daily bread.
12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’
14 For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
16 “Whenever you fast, do not put on a gloomy face as the hypocrites do, for they neglect their appearance so that they will be noticed by men when they are fasting. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.17 But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face 18 so that your fasting will not be noticed by men, but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
19 “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; 21 for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
22 “The eye is the lamp of the body; so then if your eye is clear, your whole body will be full of light. 23 But if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light that is in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!
24 “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth.
In today’s text Jesus says: When you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. In Matthew 7:7-11 Jesus says: Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, when his son asks for a loaf, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, he will not give him a snake, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give what is good to those who ask Him! Do these two portions of scripture, these words of Jesus, contradict each other? If God knows what we need before we ask, why is it that we still need to ask to receive? The truth is, we do not change God’s mind with what we ask. Our prayers do not convince God to act. Rather we are the ones who are changed through prayer. Our asking does not cause God to act, but rather it activates our faith. In Mark 11:24 Jesus says: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Many people have developed and follow various models and patterns of prayer. They pray according to a pattern so that they are certain to praise and thank God and to seek forgiveness before they ask anything of Him. It is not that those things are not good and right, but they are not always practical when we are in need. One of the most powerful and effective prayers recorded in scripture is found in Matthew 14:30, in the account of Peter getting out of the boat to walk on the water to Jesus. It says: But seeing the wind, he became frightened, and beginning to sink, he cried out, "Lord, save me!" Verse 31 says: Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and took hold of Peter. If Peter had used a model or pattern for his prayer, he may have been at the bottom of the lake. With three words, Peter’s need was met, immediately, by Jesus. Hebrews 4:15-16 says: We do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. We can ask with confidence, because it is through Christ and His righteousness, because of grace, that we come and ask.
It is important though that we recognize that it is to the throne of grace that we come boldly. Looking again at Mark 11:24, but this time also at verse 25, it says: Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours. And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins. In today’s text Jesus says: “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who is in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. ‘Your kingdom come. Your will be done, On earth as it is in heaven. ‘Give us this day our daily bread. ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.’ It would seem that the one thing we cannot neglect, if we want our prayers to be answered, is to forgive others. Without forgiveness, without forgiving others and showing them the same grace we have been shown, we cannot come to the throne of grace. If we approach God with our requests, still holding judgment against others, we do not come to the throne of grace, but rather to the judgment seat. In Matthew 7:1-2 Jesus says: “Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you.” If we come with judgment, we will be judged. Even beyond forgiveness, in yesterday’s text from Matthew 5:44, Jesus says: I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you… Romans 12:14 says: Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. If we would seek the blessings of God, we should ask with a heart that blesses others. We are to forgive and not judge. Even more we are to love. 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 says: Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.
God’s love never fails. Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Thank You heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ; precious Holy Spirit my heart belongs to You. May I receive all the blessings that You have for me; everything that You know that I need and may You also bless others, even those who are against me. Give them what they need. Most of all may they, like me receive the forgiveness for their sins. May they know Your love that never fails. May they be redeemed, reconciled and restored to You and Your plans for them. Amen.