If God Knows Everything…
If it is true that God knows our needs (see Bible Dictionary, “Prayer,”) before we even ask for them – and I have no reason to doubt this, as the God I believe in is omniscient – why do we even need to bother praying?
We’ve all had that friend who knows every piece of news before we can even finish getting the words out of our mouths. “Yeah, I already heard about that,” they smugly say, then add something we hadn’t yet heard. It’s frustrating, a little demoralizing, and makes us wonder what the point is of even sharing our thoughts if they’re going to get shot down before we can even finish completing them.
But God is the exact opposite of that annoying friend. He is the ultimate listener. “Tell me more,” he urges. “Yes, and? I’d like to help you; would you like my help? Suggestions? Do you want…MORE than you’re asking for? Or MORE than what you you even know how to express right now?”
We talk to Him because he listens openly with no judgement; only love. Of course He knows all the things, including the things we need and want, but we don’t know how He feels about it. He will not interrupt the thought, and He certainly doesn’t answer with smugness.
The requirement to approach Him in prayer is not for His benefit; it is for our own. Many times, acquiring the answer requires a wrestle. “Answers from God don’t just magically appear,” Sheri Dew tells us. “If we want to grow spiritually, the Lord expects us to ask questions and seek answers.” (BYU-I Devotional, May 2016, “Will You Engage in the Wrestle?”)
Consider Enos’ all-day and all-night “wrestle” with God before he received a remission of sins. Was that really about God’s reticence to forgive Enos? I doubt it. God doesn’t withhold forgiveness when we ask for it with a contrite and sincere heart. I think it was probably more about Enos being coached and educated about how the atonement works. Think of the holy things Enos surely learned about himself and his relationship with the Savior and Heavenly Parents during those sacred hours. Certainly he was taught from on high as he learned – and wrestled! – his way through that repentance experience.
Ask, Seek, Knock
The promise in Luke 11:9-11 is real. Ask, seek, knock. Then you receive, find, and doors are opened. “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. 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?”
“…the first great truth of all eternity is that God loves us with all of His heart, might, mind, and strength. That love is the foundation stone of eternity, and it should be the foundation stone of our daily life.” (2016–A:124, Jeffrey R. Holland, “Tomorrow the Lord Will Do Wonders among You.“)
God loves us. This profound eternal truth is testified of by every prophet, and known by every person that has ever approached Him in prayer.God will not give you something less than what you asked for; frequently you receive something even better than you could have imagined.
The wrestle is typically because we need to reconcile the answer for ourselves, and align our will or desires with God’s (always better-than-we-know) desire for us.
He will not give us a nasty snake when we are hungry and want fish. When we want warm, tender bread, He won’t give us a tooth-breaking stone.
He will, instead, prepare for us a sumptuous meal, the likes we have never before tasted.
But you do need to ask.