So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. “Pray, then, in this way…”
Sometimes, writers can be the worst speakers. I have been guilty of this myself when asked a simple question. Instead of giving a simple answer, I tend to think that the person asking the question needs all kinds of details to establish a background first. Usually, these details contribute very little to the answer, if anything at all. They only serve to waste time and perhaps keep people from asking me questions anymore. And while the speaker thinks that the listener needs these details and simply wants to give what he thinks is necessary information, the listener would rather simply hear the straight answer. You know you have been guilty of this when it takes you ninety seconds to answer a “yes or no” question. And while we all might not speak this way in our normal daily conversations, I think most of us have a habit of speaking this way when we pray to our Father in heaven.
Today’s scripture is the introduction of the instructions Jesus gives for prayer. If we read The Lord’s Prayer, what we notice is that this model is clear and concise. We might see it as being very general because it is not personally specific. Jesus teaches us to pray for things like the coming of God’s kingdom, our provision, and protection from evil. He does not instruct us to pray about needs specific to us individually. If I am having a financial hardship and need a certain amount of money to rise above that situation, must I pray for that specific amount of money? Is it sufficient for me simply to pray for God to provide? When we look at the reasoning behind the generality of The Lord’s Prayer, it makes sense that this is the case. Our Father in heaven knows exactly what we need; He does not require explanation. This could be an instruction to focus on God himself in prayer and not on the details He already knows.
Perhaps the bare-minimum prayer is simply an exercise in faith that God can come through for us even without our laboring in words. The instructions of Jesus Christ seem to indicate that. God already knows what we need. When we pray, we simply are telling him that we trust him to meet those needs. We are not bringing to his attention issues that He has failed to recognize. We are not causing him to care about something that previously went unnoticed and was not on his mind. We are merely confessing our faith that He will answer our prayers. And in that prayerful confession, the goal is to be focused not on the request but on the Father. Why else would the model prayer begin and end with simply praising and glorifying God for his greatness? Father, continually teach us to pray simply with a focus on You instead of on our need, and make our prayers honest and sincere.