We don’t know what to ask for until we know who God is. That’s why Scripture is much more insistent on Worship-focused prayer than it is on Request-focused Prayer. That’s why, when the New Testament church is facing life-threatening persecution the members come together and worship before they ask for anything. In the model prayer Jesus left for us He taught us to pray about the kingdom before we even asked for our daily bread.
It appears that if we “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” all these [other] things will be added. We don’t have to chase after them, beg, plead, or petition; He will add them. It’s because our “heavenly Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” He knows.
It was none other than Paul himself who admitted, “We do not know what we ought to ask for…” (Rom 8:26) The reason we pray is not to inform God – He knows. The reason we pray is to get on God’s agenda rather than ours – He knows. It’s pretty amazing, really. We don’t know what to ask for but He knows what we need.
There is power in praise that we have not yet understood. Wisdom, strength to overcome, incentive to walk in God’s story come when we put our own agenda on hold and focus on Him. That’s why 130 years ago Ellen White would write, “If the loving-kindness of God called forth more thanksgiving and praise, we would have far more power in prayer.”
I am convinced that the most difficult prayers for God to answer are not peeling back a large body of water so a couple of million people can hike through on dry land. It’s not bringing the solar system to a screeching halt (Josh 10) – or even backing it up (2Ki 20). It’s not calling back from the finality of death a man who has been dead for more than half a week (Jn 11). The Bible record is clear that the greatest challenge to God is to take captive the wayward human heart and bring it in submission to His will. Worship does that.
As a for instance, introduce your prayer time by praying deeply through the five verses of Psalm 100. Praise Him for who He is as David immerses us in this magnificent inspired poem. Rejoice in who He is. When our hearts become anchored in who He is, it changes us and it changes what we ask Him for. We don’t even know what we need, but He knows.