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.
The pagans of Jesus’ day would pray to many gods, trying to invoke them to action through a sort of magical incantation of the right repetition of words. But Jesus tells us to pray to the one true God from a heart of love for Him.
We don’t need many fancy words, because He already knows what we need. Our prayers should be more conversational then, than incantational.
So why pray if He already knows what we need?
Well, since prayer is conversation with God, it is vital to our relationship-building with Him. To know someone well, you spend time conversing with them. And as we do this more, we also align our desires with God’s. The more we pray in this manner Jesus shows us, the more we embed His values into our daily ethic.
And yes, as the bumper sticker sates, “Prayer changes Things.” This is true. “The biblical facts are clear: God’s changeability, not least of which is to withdraw judgement upon repentance, is far more often part of the biblical narrative than the rather rare comment that God is unchangeable, which pertains to God’s utter faithfulness to promises,” says Scot McKnight. And if that’s not true, if God has every single minute action set in stone, then there would be no real point in praying in any sort of petitional (made up word) sense at all would there?
It appears from Scripture that God’s overall plan is established and known to God while at the same time He grants us freedom within that plan. To quote McKnight again, “In this model, prayer changes things, and I believe the biblical models of prayer, from Abraham to David to Elijah to Isaiah to Jesus to Paul and the early churches, affirm this interactive model in which prayer sometimes alters the path of history within the overall plan of God in response to the prayers of God’s people. The upload from this theoretical sketch is that our yearning and our aching for God’s name to be hallowed, for God’s kingdom to come, and for others to experience the blessing of God can prompt God to actions that satisfy those yearnings and aches.”
So, while we do not pray in a wordy, incantational fashion, we do pray, and we ask over and over again for what we need within the realm of God’s kingdom (as we see in other parts of Scripture, namely Luke 11 & 18).
How is this different?
Again, could it be more for us than God? He knows how praying for something good multiple times positively affects our brain, our heart, our soul. Also, something to ponder is the “test” of desire. How badly do we want something we ask for only once? Twice even? When my daughters really want something, you better believe they ask no fewer than twenty-seven times for it within a four minute period. And this does demonstrate to me that this may be something they truly desire. They also ask for what seems like hundreds of things throughout the day, everyday that they soon forget, which shows me they did not really desire those things hardcore.
If you truly want God’s will to be done in a given situation, chances are you’ll pray more than once for it.
What have you prayed multiple times for and seen come to fruition?
What and who do you pray for daily? weekly? regularly?
God hates it when you cause conflict in community, when you stir up disunity.
God hates it.
Think about that.
Let this sink in, especially when you are the cause of a rift within God’s community of believers.
Yes, Jesus does drive people apart (Mt.10:34-36), but for those who trust and follow Him, they should be the most unified, peaceable people on the planet.
And yes, I will use this quote for the 100th time:
“Don’t you know that a hundred pianos all tuned to the same fork are automatically in tune with each other?”