Matthew 6:9-14 (New International Version)
″This, then, is how you should pray:”
‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you…’
If God is omniscient – and He is – then not one datum of knowledge escapes Him. If God is omnipotent – and He is – then there is no limit to His power; He possesses the ability to do whatever He thinks best. If God is sovereign – and He is – then He requires permission from no one to carry out His plans. And if God is perfect – and He is – then everything He does is right and good. If God possesses all these attributes, unlimited power and knowledge, complete authority, and perfection, then every decision He makes is the best one. As a frail, flawed, dependent creature, the requests I make of Him in prayer are often way off the mark. In fact, His ways are so much more advanced, holier, purer, and more complete than mine, that I often only know what I want to ask of Him, but often not what I really need to ask of Him. The Holy Spirit interprets and translates my prayers and Jesus Himself lives to intercede for me, so that my prayers fall more in line with God’s will than they would if left up to me alone.
If I don’t know what to pray for, and God is going to carry out His will anyway, why should I bother to bring my requests to God? Why not just adopt the attitude of the fatalist and embrace apathy, claiming that “God will do what he wants anyway, my prayers don’t matter?” I have said those words before, to myself, to others, and to God. Usually they poured out of a doubt-filled heart, over a situation that tested my personal limits and my faith in God’s goodness.
As I helped my husband prepare for a short commuter flight recently, my thoughts turned to another man, who one day over 20 years ago, took a short commuter flight, but who never returned home. My oldest brother was a business executive who had a winning personality, an amazing work ethic, and a bright future, which was only surpassed by his even brighter smile. My sister-in-law drove him to the airport one day for a routine business flight up the coast, and unknowingly delivered him to his death. The passenger plane he boarded crashed about forty minutes after take off, twenty minutes from its destination, killing everyone on board. My brother, who was only 35 at the time, left behind a wife, two small children, and a host of family and friends.