"…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
Prayer has often been difficult for me. I, like many others, have asked, "If the Father already knows what I need… and is already going to do what he's going to do, why bother asking?" Lately, however, my understanding of verse 8 has been changing as I have payed more attention to what follows. Jesus teaches us how to pray to a God who knows what we need before we ask and in doing so, clarifies what he means. He says to pray like this:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…" What we "need" first and foremost is to put God in his rightful place in our lives… above everything else.
"your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." The kingdom of God is a place where there is no sorrow or sickness or disease or suffering or broken relationships… What we "need" is for that kingdom to come so that things in our current reality will become as they are in our future reality.
"Give us today our daily bread." We "need" assurance that we will have enough to make it through today, and in that assurance we need the confidence that the same will be provided tomorrow.
"And forgive us our debts, as we also forgive our debtors." We cannot bear the burdens of our "debts" or "sin" ourselves so we "need" to be released from that burden. We also "need" to be released from the bondage of holding unforgiven "debt" against others.
"And lead us not into temptation," There are things in this world that are tempting… things that might taste good in the moment, but in the bigger picture take us down a path that leads to brokenness. We "need" to be lead away from that which tempts us.
"but deliver us from the evil one." There is an evil one at work in this world who would have us believe that none of our "needs" are being met… that we need to (and can) take care of business ourselves. We "need" to be delivered from the lies of this evil one.
As I reflect on how Jesus teaches us to pray, honestly I can't think of any "need" that is not covered in this general framework. But this "Lord's Prayer" is not an instruction for us to just pray in general because God's got it covered. I think it is quite the opposite. I think that the broad covering of this model prayer that Jesus teaches brings assurance that God is already aware of, and at work in meeting our needs. But because the invitation to pray is an invitation from God into the community of God (and that is God; IE: Father, Son, Holy Spirit) I believe we can also find assurance that God is deeply interested in hearing and meeting our personal needs as well.
So I'm going to pray boldly, with great hope and expectation that God will provide all that I need for this day! Will you join me?