Jesus’ disciples came to Him and asked Him to teach them to pray. In His teaching Jesus gave them a prayer pattern, a prayer parable, and a prayer promise (Luke 11:1-13). What we learn from these three parts of His lesson is that God is our Heavenly Father and He will give us what we need. While we might desire God to give us what we want, God, in His wisdom, gives to us exactly what we need. Consider this story:
When Jimmy was a little boy, he wanted to be a cowboy. He spent countless hours in front of the television, watching reruns of Gunsmoke and Bonanza. He just knew that someday he would live on a ranch, wear a big cowboy hat, and ride the range like all his cowboy heroes. When he was seven years old, Jimmy said, “Dad, I want to be a cowboy when I grow up. Will you help me be a cowboy?”
“Sure, son,” said his dad, smiling down on his little cowpoke.”
As the years went by, Jimmy grew into a fine young man. As you might expect, he outgrew his childhood fantasy of becoming a cowboy and turned instead to girls, sports, studying, and preparing himself for a career in the business world.
One day Jimmy went to his father again and said, “Dad, I want to go to college and get a good education. Will you help me?”
His dad said, “College? Son, you can’t go to college. When you were seven, you said you wanted to be a cowboy. So I bought you a ranch in Texas with 50 head of cattle! There’s no money for you to college. Besides, you need to take care of the ranch. It’s all yours!”
“But Dad!” said Jimmy. “I was just a child when I said that! I didn’t know then what I know now! I don’t want a ranch! I want and education!” (Still More Hot Illustrations for Youth Talks, pg. 95)
One of the reasons God doesn’t answer our prayers exactly the way we desire is, like Jimmy, we don’t know enough. All we know are the circumstances happening to us right now, but God has an eternal perspective. He knows what is best for us based on eternity rather than the fleeting desire of the moment. Remember what Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 6? He said:
7 “When you are praying, don't say meaningless words like the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard because of their wordiness. 8 Don't be like them, because your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8; ISV)
We can count on God to give us what we need, for He knows what is best for us. Our prayer life will reveal what we believe about God. Is He the cosmic Santa Claus seeking to fill our wish list or is He the loving Heavenly Father who knows what is best for us? By examining our prayer life we can get an idea of what we really believe about God.
Prayer is essential to our relationship with God. That is why Jesus didn’t leave our prayer life to chance. He took the time to teach His disciples how to pray. If we will follow His teachings then our prayer life will be transformed into a dynamic part of our lives. It is time that we boldly go to God in prayer, and discover the amazing provision He has for our lives.
- Point to Ponder: Our prayer life will reveal what we believe about God.
- Passage to Remember: Matthew 6:7-8
- Question to Consider: Why do we get frustrated when God doesn’t do what we want?