We began this series of messages by remembering and rejoicing in the truth that our Heavenly Benefactor places His "unsearchable riches in Christ" at the disposal of His trusting children. God calls us to seek His bounty for the glory of the Lord Jesus and the benefit of others and ourselves. We have also addressed the matter of God's answering our prayers - or not answering - in accordance with His knowledge, understanding, and wisdom. Two statements of Scripture starkly illustrate the need for such Divinely applied grace and provision.
"We know not what we should pray for as we ought" (Romans 8:26).
"But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them, for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him" (Matthew 6:7-8).
True prayer begins with God's Spirit moving upon our hearts to pray. "God hath sent for the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying Abba Father" (Galatians 4:6). It proceeds to our response based on our experience, perceptions, and analysis of need for the Lord's working. "I will pray with the understanding" (I Corinthians 14:15). We seek to pray as Biblically and intelligently as possible, trusting the Holy Spirit to guide us in our requests. He does, and the Lord often answers our prayers pretty much as we pray them. We do well, however, to remember the two truths referenced above, namely, "we know not" and "your Father knoweth." Prayer can therefore be identified as Ignorance seeking the help of Wisdom. Not only are we needy. We really don't know what we or others require, at least in the most complete sense of what God does when He answers a prayer. We see a hungry person, and if we do not have a piece of bread, we ask our Benefactor to supply. He does, but with the bread comes far more than mere physical sustenance. Indeed, the hungry have hearts, the innermost spiritual being toward which the focus of God is most directed. We see the need of the belly, an important matter, but "the Lord looketh on the heart" (I Samuel 16:7). We know not what needs to happen there, at least in the personal sense of the person's deepest requirement. Our Benefactor does know, "before ye ask Him." Thus, He answers according to His perfect knowledge rather than our decidedly limited awareness and understanding.
All of this speaks mostly to our attitude regarding the calling to "let your requests be made known unto God" (Philippians 4:6). The frame of heart and mind by which we approach God in prayer is far more important than what we express to Him upon our arrival at the Throne of grace. We should come in confidence. The wondrous One we approach possesses "unsearchable riches" and infinite understanding in how to invest them. We therefore come to make our requests, but not to tell Him how to fulfill them. Again, "Ignorance seeking the help of Wisdom." A blessed peace descends upon all who realize this holy communion with God that sees Him as He is, and ourselves as we are. Our Benefactor calls us to ask, but not to tell Him how to answer. Such truth doubtless humbles us as it pares us to down to a sublime simplicity in our praying. It should also thrill us as God arises to work with an even more sublime skillfulness in response to our requests.
"Seek ye the LORD while He may be found, call ye upon Him while He is near... For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts."
(Isaiah 55:6; 8-9)