What Can You Tell a God Who Knows Everything?
“What can I possibly tell a God who knows everything?” Some answer: “Nothing.” But if Jesus were asked the same question, he would answer: “Anything!” Continue reading . . .
In his opening comments, just before giving us what has come to be known as the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus said this:
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matt. 6:7-8).
Here we are told not to babble on with meaningless and repetitious phrases, as if God were impressed by such mindless verbosity. Never fall into the silly trap of thinking that God is impressed by the same things that impress us. You and I may be overwhelmed and duped by loquacious people whose verbal skills far exceed our own. But God isn’t.
The reason we should avoid reckless verbosity in prayer is that God knows what we need before we ask him. But if God knows all our problems and needs before we ask, why ask at all? We must remember that, generally speaking, God has determined not to fulfill our needs unless we ask him to. We must not presume that God will provide for us apart from our prayers what he has ordained to provide for us only through our prayers. Our petitions are the means by which God has purposed to give us what he already knows we need. There is something important to God about our asking him for things he knows we need.
I agree that, on the surface and at least from a human perspective, it would seem to be quicker and more efficient, and obviously less strenuous on all concerned, if God were simply to bypass prayer and get on with the giving! But that is not his way. He finds particular honor and glory in being the One to whom we must humbly come to receive that which we need.
A related issue is found in the question: “What can I possibly tell a God who knows everything?” Some answer: “Nothing.” But if Jesus were asked the same question, he would answer: “Anything!”
The doctrine of divine omniscience compels us to be totally honest with God in prayer. When dealing with someone whose knowledge of you is limited, you can pretend, manipulate, deceive, even lie to them. In other words, ignorance often generates hypocrisy.
Omniscience, on the other hand, demands honesty. What good is it to pretend or play-act with someone who already knows your heart and motivation? Thus, we need never worry about finding ourselves in a desperate condition and discover that God was caught short. Augustine once said, “God does not ask us to tell him our needs that he may learn about them, but in order that we may be capable of receiving what he is preparing to give.”