Does anyone else ever treat prayer as the big suggestion box in the sky? Pitiful, isn’t it? I remember a particularly difficult situation when I finally threw up my hands in frustration with the Lord and told Him I had no idea how in the world He was going to fix something.
I’m pretty sure I heard Him reply, “Well, good. Now, would you please get out of the way and let Me get busy.” Oops. So, I sheepishly stopped sending God all my solutions. That freed up quite a bit of prayer time, I assure you.
And with this memory in mind, I was relieved to hear Jesus’ teaching that immediately precedes the Lord’s Prayer:
“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.” Matthew 6:7-8 emphasis added
Well, how do you like that? The Lord isn’t lacking information that I’m required to pass along or He won’t know what to do. And yet, I often treat prayer that very way.
Later in the same chapter of Matthew, Jesus tells his disciples to stop worrying about what they’ll eat or wear:
“For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.” Matthew 6:32 emphasis added
And in case you’re beginning to wonder what you’ll have left to talk about in prayer, let me throw one more “wrench” in the works:
“We do not know what we ought to pray for…” Romans 8:26a emphasis added
Uh, oh. So, now what are we supposed to do? Here’s the rest of the verse:
“…but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us…the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.” Romans 8:26b, 27b
Yes, we have a Helper, indeed. No wonder Paul tells us when dressing for battle to, “…pray in the Spirit with all kinds of prayers and requests.” Ephesians 6:18a
Now, if that seems a bit sketchy to you and you’re not sure what it’s supposed to look like, simply ask for help. You were praying anyway, right? And a marvelous default position is the same one Jesus gave at the end of Matthew 6:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 ESV