Thursday, September 23, 2010

"Prayer Changes Us"

That's the title of the September 11 installment in a wonderful book of devotions written by Martin Luther. The book is composed of fragments of the great reformer's sermons, lectures, essays, and table talks. This one deals with the question, Why pray? I like what Luther says a lot!
Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 6:8

You might wonder, "Why does God insist that we pray to him and tell him our problems? Why doesn't he take care of us without our having to ask? He already knows what we need better than we do." God continually showers gifts on the whole world every day. He gives us sunshine, rain, good harvests, money, healthy bodies, and so on. But we often neither ask God for these gifts nor thank him for them. If God already knows that we can't live without light or food for any length of time, then why does he want us to ask for these necessities?

Obviously, he doesn't command us to pray in order to inform him of our needs. God gives us his gifts freely and abundantly. He wants us to recognize that he is willing and able to give us even more. When we pray, we're not telling God anything he doesn't already know. Rather, we are the one gaining knowledge and insight. Asking God to supply our needs keeps us from becoming like unbelieving skeptics, who don't acknowledge God and don't thank him for his many gifts.

All of this teaches us to acknowledge God's generosity even more. Because we continue to search for him and keep on knocking at his door, he showers us with more and more blessings. Everything we have is a gift from God. When we pray, we should express our gratitude by saying, "Lord, I know that I can't create a single slice of daily bread. You are the only one who can supply all my needs. I have no way to protect myself from disasters. You know what I need ahead of time, so I'm convinced that you will take care of me."

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