Jump Start # 3452
Matthew 6:8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
We are looking at the topic of prayer. Sometimes we spend so much time talking about prayer, how to pray, what to pray for and all the ins and outs of prayer that we just need to stop and simply pray.
Our verse today, taken from the Sermon on the Mount, is found in a series to positive and negative thoughts about praying. Negatively, Jesus tells us not to pray like the hypocrites. They love to draw attention to themselves. Rather than praying loudly on the street corner, Jesus tells His disciples to go into a closet and shut the door. No one is in there but you and God. No one to impress. No one to praise you. Just you and God, and He already knows you.
Jesus also tells the disciples not to use meaningless repetition. It’s not repeating that’s wrong, it’s the mindless, thoughtless, meaningless repeating that’s wrong. Put thought into the words. Put heart into the words. Jesus prayed the same thing, the Gospels tell us when He was in the garden. But it wasn’t meaningless. His sweat became like blood. He poured His all into those prayers.
Jesus says you don’t have to use many words. His illustration that follows, the model prayer, is short, to the point and covers both physical and spiritual things.
There are two layers of thoughts that come from our verse today.
First, if God already knows what I need, then why pray? He knows. That’s a great question. Jesus answers it by saying, “But when you pray…” We are to pray. It reminds us that God is there. It reminds us that our blessings come from God. It reminds us that we are dependent on Him and need Him for our very existence. Even though He knows, ask. Pray.
Second, knowing what we need is something that God knows but we may not. I may think that I need a vacation. I need a raise, someone thinks. I need a newer car. I need a new phone. I need a better job. I need chocolate. And, it’s real easy for us to merge the “I need” and “I want” categories together. God knows what I need. I wonder if I really know what I need?
And, another question arises, will God give me what I need if I don’t ask Him? What if I don’t know what I need? Will He give me something else, something I do not need?
Just what is it that I need? Sounds like a parent talking to a teen as they pack a suitcase for vacation. “Take just what you need.” What is it that I need?
Here’s my list:
· I need life—because life is where things happen, choices are made, and good is accomplished. Now, some may think that they have to have good health to have life, but that’s not a given. One can do things even in poor health.
· I need guidance. I am one of the sheep, a part of a flock. I get lost easily. I don’t pay attention like I should. The guidance that we need, comes from God’s word. I need that.
· I need the mercy of God. I don’t always do what I ought to. I don’t always have warm, fuzzy thoughts about others. I can get lazy, stubborn and selfish. I need God’s grace. I need God’s forgiveness.
· I need a purpose, a reason to be here. Life is more than just being happy every day. Life is more than just getting stuff all the time. I need God to show me how to be a servant to others. I need to comfort and encourage others. I need a purpose.
· I need a congregation. I may not always understand why, but God does. I need accountability. I need others to help me. I need to praise the Lord with others. I need to belong.
Now, I didn’t say anything about a family, a house, pets, vacations or even chocolate. I remember Paul saying that he was hungry, thirsty and homeless in 1 Corinthians 4. I guess God didn’t think he needed those things. But Paul was thankful for God’s grace and God’s gift of salvation.
Maybe what I need is not what I think I need. Sure is something to think about.