From the book: Sermon on the Mount. Vol. 4

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Sermon on the Mount, #38
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HE KNOWS OUR NEED

SERMON #102

Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him, MAT 6:8.

In His Sermon on the Mount in the sixth chapter of Matthew, Jesus deals with the posture of the heart before God. Our text teaches the posture of the heart in prayer. Jesus pointed out how the hypocrites have a desire to be seen of men; He pointed out the hypocrisy we have in our hearts by nature. The Lord Jesus has pointed out the posture that He is looking for when you and I come before Him in prayer. Then Jesus goes on to say He doesn't want vain repetition of words; He doesn't want us to think we will be heard for much speaking because He knows before we ask what we stand in need of, but He still wants us to ask.

Our Saviour teaches us in this chapter how, and how not to, pray. He also teaches that we must pray. We must not pray in a hypocritical posture of heart, but we must pray. Satan would love to use our text to convince us there is no need of prayer. We need to stop and think about how often Satan would say we have too many words in our prayer now, that's vain repetition. He would accuse us of praying to be seen. Then Satan would remind us that the Lord knows everything we stand in need of before we ask, saying that really, we would be better off not to pray. However, the Lord Jesus teaches us that we must pray. The Lord wants us to come before Him with the posture of our heart like that of a little child.

Our text says, "...for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." Satan would tell us we don't have to ask, the Lord already knows we need it, and He will grant it.

Let's examine eight scriptural reasons for prayer to help us understand why God is lovingly instructing us to pray, and that we must pray. It is so important that we understand that the Lord is looking at the posture of the heart.

The first reason we must come before the Lord in prayer is because the Lord has decreed it. In His wise counsel,God has decreed that it is His pleasure that we should come before Him as a little child.

It is God's good pleasure that we should ask to receive, that we should seek to find, and that we should knock before He opens. This is demonstrating an obedient posture of the heart before God; He wants to see that seeking heart. He wants to look upon a heart that is humbly asking and knocking at His door.

The greatest blessings are promised if we ask to receive, seek to find, and knock for the door to be opened. MAT 18:19 says, "Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven." The Lord has decreed we must ask. He knows what we stand in need of; He could provide it without our asking, but in His decree He has commanded us, saying in His Word, "Ask, and ye shall receive,"JOH 16:24. The negative implication is that if we don't ask, we won't receive.

The Lord is directing us by giving us a command that we must ask. We may not allow Satan to come in our heart and tell us that the Lord knows what we need; therefore, don't bother, don't get into a lot of repetition of words, don't do these things. Satan wants overreaction; he either wants us to come with a repetition of words that has no end, or he wants us to be mum. I heard a man say, "Well, I can't lead in prayer because the prayer of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord. I don't know that I have grace. Therefore, I can't lead in prayer." Look how Satan will trap us to keep us from asking. It is so important to understand that God commands with a promise, "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you," MAT 7:7.

The second reason for prayer is that asking in faith pleases the Father. We must come to Him believing that He will provide, that He will answer and grant. Our asking is an exercise of faith. The command for us to ask is a command to exercise that faith to come before Him. We read in HEB 11:6, "But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."

When we come to lay our petition before the Lord, we demonstrate that we believe that He is. We are demonstrating our faith to believe there is a God to whom we are directing our petition. We must believe that He is, that He is also a "...rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." This asking, this coming before the Lord, demonstrates faith. So often we ask ourselves, "But do I have faith?" Jesus said, "If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you," MAT 17:20b.

Now when we come before the Lord to ask, and when we come in a posture of heart that is acceptable before the Lord, we are exercising faith because we are demonstrating that we do believe that He is. We are coming to Him believing He "is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him." Therefore, one of the reasons God has decreed that we must ask is to show that we are demonstrating faith.

JAM 1:6-7 says, "But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord." It is important that we come believing He will grant because we become as unstable as water if we cannot ask, believing we shall receive. We must ask in faith, because if we are not asking in faith, we will not receive anything of the Lord. MAT 21:22 says, "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."

Asking is an exercise in faith. The Lord wants us to lay out our needs before Him from a heart of simplicity. He tells us to ask for those things when our heart is exercised before Him. "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive." That Scripture is the promise of God.

The third reason we must pray is because God has revealed that it is His pleasure that we should seek before we find. We are walking in a fatalistic way if we just say within ourselves, "Well, if it is in the Lord's providence, it will happen; if it is the Lord's decree, it will happen." No. He wants us to seek before we find.

We see this principle in MAT 6:31-33, "Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) [He is talking about our priorities. If we are seeking the tangible things of this world, they are the things the Gentiles are seeking.] for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. [These things are not to be our highest priority.] But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."

The Lord wants us to come before Him seeking His will before we find because He is looking at the posture of our heart. What are we seeking? Are we seeking the tangible things of this life? Are they the things for which we spend our time struggling? Are they the things which occupy our heart and mind? Or, do we seek the kingdom of God as our first priority? Seeking the kingdom is seeking to enter His service under the Kingship of Christ, seeking first to do those things which are pleasing to the Lord. Entering the kingdom of God is entering the service of the Lord, and that should be the first thing we seek.

We should seek the Lord's will as our first priority, seeking those things which are pleasing to the Lord. Our will must be dissolved in the will of God; our highest desire is to do His will.

I have explained before that Godliness is the fulfillment of the first table of the law, i.e., that we love Him with all our heart, soul and mind. Righteousness points to our attitude toward our fellow man which is under the second table of the law. We must seek the Lord's will; we must seek to serve Him in a manner which is pleasing to the Lord. Our attitudes toward our fellow man must be right, as well as our first love must be to the Lord. Then it says, "and all these things shall be added unto you," and the Lord will bless us in the fruit of our labors.

Then the Lord will give us an abundance of the necessities of life--our food, clothing, housing. We reveal where our priorities are by the things we seek; this is what the Lord is telling us in our manner of prayer. In MAT 13:45 we read, "Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto a merchant man, seeking goodly pearls." In other words, we must seek the will of God as our highest priority; we must seek to serve the Lord as our greatest delight. We must seek God's will as a man who is seeking goodly pearls.

The Lord is looking at the thoughts, intents, and desires of our heart. Are our priorities mixed up? He also speaks of this same thing in LUK 15:8, "Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it?"

The Lord tells us in the book of James that "Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts," JAM 4:3. The Lord tells us we must seek the kingdom of heaven as the woman who lost a piece of silver, LUK 15:8. She seeks, searches, sweeps the house, and puts every thought into finding it. Do we use that kind of diligence and effort when we seek to know His will? Do we act with a desire to serve Him? He is looking for that posture of the heart when we come before Him.

Jesus is seeking evidence of where our priorities lie before we shall find. We read in LUK 13:7, "Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down; why cumbereth it the ground?" The Lord is looking for fruit. What kind of fruit is He looking for? He is looking for the fruit of the Spirit, for the fruit of repentance, for the fruit of a new heart, and for the fruit of seeking the Kingdom of Heaven.

The fourth reason we must pray is because knocking, as an exercise of faith, pleases God. We must understand that the things which God has decreed, He will have us do. He tells us to knock as an exercise of faith.

LUK 11:9-13 says, "And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. [Our lovely Saviour condescends so low. He uses our natural affection for our children to illustrate His Father's parental love.] If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? [See how our faith is exercised! He is pleading with us to use our human reasoning saying if you were a father, would you give such things to your children that ask?] If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?"

What greater gift could we beg for than to become temples of the Holy Spirit? That is a precious promise from the Father. The emphasis is that we must ask, and then we shall receive.

EZE 36:24-29 has so blessedly described what it is to have His Spirit, "For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land." When we ask for the Holy Spirit, the first thing we must understand is that the Lord is going to separate us from the things of this world. The Lord will separate us from the Gentiles who have their conversations in the world. He will bring His people to the promised land, i.e., into that Spirit of Christ where they will serve the Lord in Spirit and in truth.

The next verse says, "Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you." The Lord will sprinkle clean water on us and all the hypocrisy of our heart and our idols will be cleansed from us. In V:26 He says, "A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you [that Spirit of Christ! That is so precious. He will give us new desires and priorities]: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." What is the fruit of the Spirit? Holiness. He will cause us to keep His judgments and do them. There is such a difference between knowing the will of God and doing it. We must be willing to give up those things which please the flesh.

Verse:28 continues, "And ye shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers; and ye shall be my people, and I will be your God. I will also save you from all your uncleannesses [What a blessedness!]: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you." It is such a blessedness when the Lord shows us that He will bring us to that fountain that is open for all sin and uncleanness.

Take notice of how the Lord Jesus says we are not to seek after the tangible things of this life. "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you," MAT 6:32. Now look again at the list of promises we read of in EZE 36. In the 29th verse we read, "I will also save you from all your uncleannesses: and I will call for the corn, and will increase it, and lay no famine upon you." In other words, if these blessings become ours, then automatically to go with them, He blesses our increase, He blesses the fruit of our hands, and He says there will be no famine upon us. That can also mean there will be no spiritual famine laid upon us. We will have the presence of God. We will have His love; we will have the joy of the Spirit in our heart. That becomes the blessing.

Our text says, "...your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." That is so precious! Before we ask, He has already promised all these things. The promises are written in His Word.

It is so precious how the Lord holds these promises before His people as a pleading ground, and then He says in EZE 36:37, "Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them; I will increase them with men like a flock." That is so precious when our Saviour gives us that spirit of prayer and supplication. He knows before we ask what needs we have. Before we ask, He has already promised in His Word what He will do. Now He gives that pleading ground. Oh, beloved, there is such power in prayer when we can come before the Lord and say, "Lord, Thou has spoken; Thou hast promised!"

There is such power in prayer when we can come before the Lord and cite His Word. We can say, "O Lord, thou hast promised. Lord, I believe; help my unbelief. O Lord thou hast promised, and I believe thou wilt grant it." Then we can ask for the Holy Spirit to give us a new heart, that He will put a right spirit within us, that He will cleanse us from all our uncleanness, and that we will see His blessings promised in His Word. After He has promised it all, He says, "Thus saith the Lord GOD; I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them."

He is not going to lay His blessings in a place where we will trample on them. He says He WILL be inquired of. That isn't maybe. Do you know what He will do? He will bring us down to where we will see our need. He will take away all the things that hinder His blessings and come in our heart with His chastening hand. He will bring our hearts into a posture to where we WILL come. The Lord says, "I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them."

That is so precious because if He left us to ourselves, we would only go on in our deceit. We would never come. No man will ever come unto the Son except the Father draws him by the unction of His Spirit. Now the most precious promise of all is, "I will yet for this be inquired of by the house of Israel, to do it for them." God's wills and shalls are eternally secure, they don't mean maybe!

The Lord has commanded us to knock, but if our priorities are mixed up, we will knock too late. We read that in LUK 13:24-28, "Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. [When will they seek to enter in? When it is too late, then they will knock and cry aloud.] When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are [If we didn't know Him during our lifetime, if our hearts were settled on the things of this world, and our priorities were so mixed up that we never came to knock in the right posture of heart, then He will say it is forever too late.]: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. [Look, you heard my Word, but you never learned to understand the word do! You never entered the kingdom of God with your walk of life.] There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out." The Lord Jesus is saying here that those who were saved came into the kingdom of God; they walked in the ways of the Lord. They not only heard His Word, but they did what He said. Jesus said, "Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock," MAT 7:24.

Jesus is still holding out the golden scepter, knocking at the door of our hearts. REV 3:20-21 says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock..." This is the time of grace when the Lord is knocking on our door to bring our priorities straight. He pleads for us to bring ourselves into the right place, serving the Lord. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."

Think of this overcoming. What did Christ overcome? He overcame the power of sin. He overcame the power of temptation. He died once unto sin. This is what He is telling you and me. If you overcome the power of sin and temptation and die unto sin, then you will know what it is to sit with Him in His throne. "To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." What does the Lord command us to seek and ask for? He commands that we should ask for the Holy Spirit, that Spirit of Christ, when He says, "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock."

Prayer is an avenue by which we come to God. We must struggle and strive against the power of sin; we must overcome the power of sin in the blood of the Lamb. How? By Christ's victory over sin, death, and the grave, He is the propitiation for our sins.

The fifth reason we must pray is because prayer is necessary to daily teach us, and to remind us, of our dependency upon God for everything. Our text says, "...your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." Prayer is to teach us to understand, and for us to confess what is in our hearts. We must learn to understand what is in our hearts.

DEU 8:2-3 says, "And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live." These are the reasons the Lord tells us to pray. We might then learn to understand and to confess what is in our heart.

A true, childlike spirit is essential to entering the kingdom of God. In MAT 18:3 Christ said, "Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven." We must seek the Lord to give us a childlike spirit, a heart that is tender in the fear of God.

Prayer is so spiritually healthy for us. It is the heartbeat of our spiritual life. Our heart is as vital to our natural life as prayer is to our spiritual life. Christ's own disciples were so filled with that leaven of the Pharisees. They strove among themselves about who would be the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, MAT 18:11. Prayer is needed to purge out that old leaven. You and I have to learn to understand what is in our heart and how much of that old Pharisee is in there. In this chapter Christ is dealing with that leaven of the Pharisees, that puffing up of self.

When Peter's old nature had the upper hand, he was so strong in himself that he could argue with the Lord as we read in MAT 26:33-35. "Peter answered and said unto him, Though all men shall be offended because of thee, yet will I never be offended, Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, That this night, before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice. Peter said unto him [He is still arguing with the Lord], Though I should die with thee, yet will I not deny thee." Prayer is to teach us and help us to know our own heart.

See the fruit of a prayerless spirit. Peter had a prayerless spirit. Watch what we see in MAT 26:40-41, "And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, [the one who would not deny His Lord, he was so strong] What, could ye not watch with me one hour? [Jesus reproved him] Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak." The Lord commanded them to pray, but Peter was so strong in himself that he fell asleep. He didn't need prayer. There was no spiritual travail in his soul. There was such a prayerless spirit, leaning on his own strength instead of acknowledging his dependence upon God.

When Jesus left Peter over unto a prayerless spirit, he denied his Lord. We see this in MAT 26:74, "Then began he to curse and to swear, saying, I know not the man. And immediately the cock crew." The Lord allowed Peter to fall to teach him and us the consequences of a prayerless spirit.

Now take notice of LUK 22:61; one look of love from our lovely Saviour restored Peter in a true spirit of dependency in prayer. We need to understand this for the good of our own soul. "And the Lord turned, and looked upon Peter. And Peter remembered the word of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice." Now Peter remembered; now Peter didn't boast of his own strength to stand; he could see how he had denied his Lord. What did Peter do? "And Peter went out, and wept bitterly," LUK 22:62. Now Peter came to the right spirit of prayer where he confessed his sin.

Pray for a childlike faith. The Lord said in MAT 26:41, "Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak."

We must have a spirit of dependency to receive the blessing. God is pleased when we ask Him in a childlike way for help in a time of need. In 1PE 5:6-7 we read, "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time [Peter now understood what it was to fall and be humbled under the mighty hand of God.]: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." Now Peter understood Christ's words, "But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren," LUK 22:32.

The Lord is pleased when we are needy in ourselves. We stand on slippery ground when we are strong in ourselves. We see in PSA 55:22, "Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved." The Lord wants us not only to feel our need, but He wants us to cast our burden upon Him.

David learned to cast his burden upon the Lord as we see in PSA 40:16-17, "Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The LORD be magnified. But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God." Being poor and needy is an acceptable sacrifice to the Lord. A humble and contrite spirit the Lord will not despise. David came before the Lord and confessed his needy condition.

The sixth reason we must pray is because even though God knows what we have need of, prayer is so necessary to generate expectancy to prepare our hearts to receive God's blessing. The Lord will attend unto the cry of the needy as we see in PSA 72:12, "For he shall deliver the needy when he crieth; the poor also, and him that hath no helper." Throughout Scripture the decree of God is that we must pray even though He knows our needs before we ask to generate expectancy. In PSA 12:5 we read, "For the oppression of the poor, for the sighing of the needy, now will I arise, saith the LORD; I will set him in safety from him that puffeth at him." It is a sigh of expectancy, a cry of the heart, not a repetition of vain words.

God was well pleased with Hezekiah's needy prayer while Sennacherib, i.e., that old man of sin, was boasting. Hezekiah came and laid that letter before the Lord. Listen as we read in 2KI 19:16, "LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach the living God." See Hezekiah's expectancy in this needy cry! He had no might in himself against that great enemy. You and I have no might against that old man of sin. We have to understand Hezekiah's plea when he said, "LORD, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, LORD, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib..."

The Lord certainly knew what was in that letter. Our text says, "...your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him," but in a childlike spirit expectancy Hezekiah laid it out before the Lord as if to say, "Lord, now read it for Thyself." He laid it before the Lord with a childlike spirit, with faith to believe he would be heard. Hezekiah's prayer of need was as if he said, "This letter is from that boasting, mocking enemy of thy Name." He was pleading for the honor of God's name.

The Lord is well-pleased when His children come as needy beggars in such a childlike way, especially when they are pleading for the honor of His name. Such prayer as that of Hezekiah helps to prepare the heart; also, such a prayer filled with expectancy prepares the heart for the Lord's answer and blessing. That is what the Lord desires; He will cast His seed in well-prepared soil. When our hearts are right before the Lord, He comes with His showers of blessings. He places that seed of the Spirit, that blessedness of His love, and puts it in that well-prepared ground.

A seventh reason for prayer, even though "...your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him," is that the prayers of the needy bring them to know the Lord by experiencing His answers to those prayers. It is vitally important that we understand that it is through God's answers to those prayers that we learn by experience what it is to know the Lord. Let's examine this principle just a little. In JOH 17:3 we read, "And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent."

It is through the exercise of prayer that we learn to know the Lord. This is life eternal, that we might know God. It means that we learn to have dealings with the Lord. You may think you know a person all your life long, but if you have never had any dealings with that person, you don't really know him. You don't know if he is honest, if his word is good; you don't know all the things you learn about a person until having dealings with him. When we start having dealings with the Lord, we start to know Him. It is through our prayer life that we come to experience these dealings with the Lord. I want to demonstrate that from Scripture.

A most beautiful example is Eliezer who was sent by Abraham to find a wife for Isaac. Let's see how the Lord dealt with him through prayer which brought him to the knowledge of God. GEN 24:11-14 says, "And he made his camels to kneel down without the city by a well of water at the time of the evening, even the time that women go out to draw water. And he said [Here is his prayer], O LORD God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham. Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water: And let it come to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master." That was his prayer.

Eliezer told Laban and Bethuel how he had prayed and then explained how that exact thing took place to the letter. When he finished explaining, "Then Laban and Bethuel answered and said, The thing proceedeth from the LORD: we cannot speak unto thee bad or good. Behold, Rebekah is before thee, take her, and go, and let her be thy master's son's wife, as the LORD hath spoken." GEN 24:50-51. How did the Lord speak? He answered that servant's prayer. They learned to know the Lord had spoken in Providence because He had so concisely and clearly answered Eliezer's prayer.

As our text says, "...your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." Certainly God knew his need. God was already answering that prayer before Eliezer prayed it.

Think about this; the Lord had already begun answering the prayer before Eliezer had the prayer enter his heart. Rebecca had to start out to meet him at the well before he began praying. God was providing the answer to that prayer before it ever entered Eliezer's heart.

Eliezer's prayer brought them to know the Lord by experiencing His answers to those prayers. That is one of the main reasons the Lord commands us to pray. It is in prayer and the answering of prayer that we come to know the Lord, and to know Him as eternal life.

I want to draw a little illustration here. Just imagine for a moment what a coincidence it would be to the human reasoning, if in the same set of circumstances, Eliezer had not prayed. I want to show how the complete picture of the confirmation of the Lord would be missing if Eliezer had not prayed. Under the same circumstances, it would all be a coincidence. God was already providing for those needs before Eliezer prayed, so God knew his needs, and it was in His decree to provide those needs.

Without God's record of Eliezer's prayer, imagine now how the whole story would change. Eliezer would come to the well, and he would ask the first girl he met who she was. He would find out her name was Rebecca. Eventually she would agree to go with him, and he would say, "What a coincidence!" Where is the difference? Eliezer's faith put into exercise and the answer of prayer revealed an intimate knowledge of the Lord. It was not a coincidence.

God has decreed that He will use prayer that we might receive a spiritual eyesight to see His hand in all our blessings. The Lord is pleased to use prayer to develop spiritual experiences of God's dealings with our soul. It is very important that we understand this principle.

Eighth, we must come before the Lord in prayer to express our thanksgiving. He has decreed that we are to express our thankfulness through prayer. Thanksgiving is so pleasing to God. He has commanded that we must show our gratitude through prayer. Let's go back to Eliezer. Eliezer not only came to the Lord in his need, but he returned to the Lord with gratitude. Both aspects are recorded.

In GEN 24:26-28 it says, "And the man bowed down his head, and worshipped the LORD. And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the LORD led me to the house of my master's brethren. And the damsel ran, and told them of her mother's house these things." You see, he not only came to the Lord in his need, but he came to the Lord with gratitude. That is another one of the great reasons the Lord commands us to pray. With prayer and thanksgiving we make our needs known.

The Word of God says in 2CO 4:15, "For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God." Why does thanksgiving redound, i.e., expound or increase, to the glory of God? True thanksgiving and gratitude are confessions of unworthiness. When we come with true thanksgiving in our heart, we are expressing our deep unworthiness. The more unworthy we feel, the more gratitude we have for what we have received.

There is not the same degree of gratitude we feel when we say, "Thank you," if we feel like we have a rightful title to what we receive. We receive mercy when we deserve the exact opposite. If we come with true gratitude before the Lord, we must confess we deserve hell instead of receiving mercy and grace. That is why the Lord is so glorified with gratitude. The Word of God says we must return thanks; it is "for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God."

The Lord is glorified with true thanksgiving. We read in PHI 4:6, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." When we come to seek the Lord, the Lord is glorified, if from our heart, we come before His throne and beg as an unworthy sinner. When we come with a confession of unworthiness, we can express true gratitude. When pleading for His blessings as unworthy of them, we are asking with a true heart of humility and gratitude. In all things, by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving we are to make our requests known unto God.

Our text says, "...your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him," but that does not mean we should not pray. Such a knowledge should encourage us to pray---to bring our needs in a childlike, brief, urgent petition unto the Lord. It is so often that we don't know what to ask; we are not able to truly lay our needs before Him. His all-seeing eye knows our need. He comes to answer our needs when our heart is in the right posture.

When we receive grace to come with true thanksgiving, with a true confession of unworthiness, we can come and plead His Word when making our supplication before Him, pleading for His promise's sake. God's Word is such a powerful pleading ground. We can plead His mercy; we can plead His love. We can also plead His loving kindness to unworthy ones. Our prayers can be very brief. Sometimes it is only a sigh, "the sigh of the needy." Prayer doesn't even have to be words, it could be a groan, a petition that is so urgent. That is what the Lord wants. He wants urgency; He wants importunity. He wants all other considerations to become second place. He wants our hearts to be devoted in what we are asking.

MAT 6:6-8 says, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet [come into a secret place with God, our hearts must be in a private place with the Lord], and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." In other words, come to God in secret. Our hearts are in private communication between us and the Lord. "Thy door" is the door of your heart and when it is closed to all of the things outside, we can pray to our Father. Verse 7 continues, "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." Do you see how the Lord is teaching us that He is not pleased with hypocrisy? He is teaching us the proper posture of the heart. He is teaching us to seek, to knock, and to ask believing we will receive. He doesn't want vain repetitions; He wants to know what is truly the posture of the heart.

"Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him," MAT 6:8. There is such a preciousness in the gospel. We can come before the Lord with unworthiness and neediness. We are told to ask, to seek, and to knock. And now we know He is knocking on the door of our heart. He wants our hearts to be open so He can come in. He wants us to enter that kingdom of God, i.e., the service of the Lord. We cannot serve two masters; we cannot serve self and the Lord. That is what He is telling us; He is pointing out the posture of the heart before the Lord. The Lord sees in secret, and He will reward us openly. What is that reward? We will see that the Lord will be glorified. He says, "Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven," MAT 5:16. This is what He wants; the Lord wants us to see the reward of secret prayer before Him. Amen.


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