One of the greatest theological events in my life was the day I became a father. Before my children were born I had no idea how deeply they would affect my view of God. To this day fatherhood continues to bless me with a unique perspective on God’s love, patience, and joy that He takes in his children; and, even more sweetly, the delight he takes in me personally.
Fatherhood has drawn me out of an occupation with self. Through sleepless nights, hectic days, and playful afternoons, I am constantly forced to be aware of the needs of my children. Whether they were hungry, needed a diaper changed, or simply needed a nap, I was ready and willing to meet those needs. Interestingly, my children didn’t have to come into the world informing me of their daily necessities. I knew, before they were born, that they would need constant care and attention. I learned that one of the main ways in which father’s display their love is through presence and provision. It isn’t always easy, but it’s well worth the sacrifice—and I take immense joy in delighting in my children.
Maybe that’s why Jesus’ words of comfort hit my heart the other day:
And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.
I’ve read this passage many times, but it suddenly brought tears to my eyes. God knows what I need. I’m not sure if I’ve always believed that. I’ve realized lately how often my life is dictated by fear rather than faith; how often I question God’s present awareness of difficulties I’m enduring. I realize now that faith, at its heart, is about trusting in the power and provision of the Father—and knowing that He has a determined good to fulfill the deepest longings of your heart. I’m reminded of what the Psalmist wrote:
Delight yourself in the Lord; And He will give you the desires of your heart.
Are you lonely, longing for close companionship? God knows you need a friend. His heart aches like the Father watching his daughter play on the monkey bars by herself. Are you hurting? Have you lost a dear friend, loved one, or even a spouse or a child? God know you need hope. His tears fall like the father who binds the broken arm of his child. Are you stressed? Is your job, and the pressures of life, making it impossible for you to live with joy? God knows you need peace. He aches like the father who sees his child discouraged by daily pressures and struggles.
The reality is that there is no place where God’s proactive presence is not aware of your present need. Even greater, God promises to fulfill those deepest longings, to calm those quiet fears, to conquer those dreadful agonies of the soul, through his unconquerable purpose in Jesus. In the resurrection, God promises to “freely give us all things” (Rom. 8:32) and “make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). This isn’t the corrosive message of the prosperity gospel, but the promise that God’s children will eternally prosper through the gospel. We will be given the unstained, eternal riches of God’s bounty in Jesus. At the heart of this inheritance is God Himself. He is our “exceedingly great reward” (Gen. 15:1, NKJV). Our greatest need is God, and He willingly gives of Himself without reservation. What glory. What comfort.
Faith in this reality of hope is transformative; it is life-defining. If we genuinely believe that God will inevitably fulfill the greatest, deepest longings of our heart, then our entire world-view shifts. We can forgive, because God will bring justice and restore all that is lost. We can watch our house burn, our car break down, and our phone crack without losing an inch of substantive joy because we believe our true inheritance is “imperishable and undefiled, and will not fade away” (1 Pet. 1:4). We can labor in dead end jobs, finding joy in the monotonous moments of daily desk work, because our joy is anchored in the hope of Jesus’ victory over death. This is the hope of the gospel—and we rejoice in it (Rom. 5:2).
In fact, the message of the gospel can be boiled down to a single truth: God knew our need and proactively sought a way to provide. This is our God. Unlike the ancient epics of Babylon and other early creation accounts in which humans are simply pawns for heavens, the God of scripture is eternally invested in His glory through the provision and salvation of humanity.
This dramatically altars my prayer life. Coming to God, confident He knows my deepest, daily needs settles my restless heart. Fear departs from the face of a Christian who completely trusts in their Father. But there is also trust in the thought that God’s absolute awareness of my true needs will cut through the quagmire of my often-misled heart and its base desires. Just as I don’t grant every request of my children as we walk down the toy aisle of Walmart, I trust that God’s unanswered request are for the ultimate end of conforming me to the image of His and Son in eternal glory.
In the end, there will be no unmet expectations for the child of God; absolute, eternal contentment will be our perpetual existence for millions upon millions of years. We trust this because we trust Him.
For Abba knows our every need.