Read: Matthew 21:22
Last time, we ended with the question: why must we ask God to supply our needs? In answering this question, we must avoid several errors that are easy to fall into.
First, we do not make petitions to God in order to inform Him of something He did not already know. God does not learn that we are hungry and thirsty because we ask Him for food and drink. God is omniscient, all-knowing. He knows what we have need of, even before we ask Him (Matt 6:8). There is no additional information that we can give Him, for He knows all.
Second, we do not make petitions in order to change God’s mind by persuading Him to give us something that He had intended to withhold. For example, our pleas for forgiveness of sins do not turn God’s heart of wrath towards us into a heart of mercy towards us. God answers our pleas because His heart has always been merciful towards us in Christ. God is the great I AM THAT I AM, who cannot change. What He was yesterday, He is today, and will be tomorrow. “For I Am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed” (Mal 3:6).
So then, why must we ask God to supply our needs?
First of all, our petitions give honor and glory to God. They are a way of acknowledging that God alone can provide. We do not place our trust in our own strength to provide our needs, nor in the government, nor in any earthly agency or individual. Rather, we place our trust in God. Our petitions are not only requests, they are also confessions of faith that God alone is sovereign.
Second, God uses our petitions to strengthen our faith. Matt 21:22 and Jam 1:6-7 both teach that prayer requires faith. We may not pray doubting God’s promises to answer, but we must pray, believing. Every time we pray, therefore, God exercises our faith. Therefore, our petitions are not only requests, they are also expressions of trust that God will answer us.
Finally, God uses our petitions as means to provide us with our needs. God is pleased to use instruments and means to accomplish His purposes. When He speaks to us, He does not thunder with His own voice directly from heaven, but He speaks through the Scriptures, and through office-bearers who expound those Scriptures. So also, when God provides our needs, He does not drop them on us from the heavens, but uses our prayers as one of His instruments of provision. Therefore, our petitions are not only requests, they are also God’s means of answering.