The Primary Purpose of Prayer (Matthew 6:7–8) - Radical

The Primary Purpose of Prayer (Matthew 6:7–8)

“When you pray do not heap up empty phrases as the gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
– Matthew 6:7–8

Those two verses are astounding to think about. Jesus is saying, “Okay, don’t heap up empty phrases like the Gentiles do. They think they’re going to be heard because they’re just using all kinds of words.” He says, “Don’t be like them because why? Your Father in heaven knows what you need before you even ask him.” 

The primary purpose of prayer is not to get something, but to know Someone.

Apparently, God is not up in heaven when we’re praying, with a steno pad writing down whatever we say and saying, “Oh, thank you for mentioning that. I didn’t realize that. Oh, I didn’t know that was going on.” He already knows what we need before we even ask him. Which, if we really think about that, causes us to them ask the question, “Well, if he already knows what I need then why am I asking him in the first place? If he already knows what I need what’s the point of prayer?”

Matthew 6:7–8 Reminds Us That the Purpose of Prayer is to Get to Know God

As soon as we ask that question we’re on the verge of a major breakthrough in prayer because we’re starting to realize that the primary purpose of prayer is not to get some thing but to know someone. That is huge to understand. The primary purpose of prayer is not to get some thing but to know someone. Now, it’s not that we don’t ask for things, of course we ask for things. We’re taught right after this what we should ask for. For God’s name to be hallowed, for his kingdom to come. His will to be done. For provision of our daily bread. And for forgiveness of our debts, for God’s guidance and leadership in our lives.

Prayer Allows Us to be With God

We ask for all these things but before we even get to that we need to realize that part of the purpose of prayer. I would say the primary purpose of prayer, is simply being with God. It’s why Jesus said right before this in verse six that when you pray go in your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who’s in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Jesus is teaching his disciples here and us today. There is a reward just waiting to be experienced and enjoyed every single day. Just by going into your room, shutting the door, and being with God. I want to encourage you today to experience this in prayer. To just go into a room, close the door, get before God, and before you even start to ask for anything just enjoy being with him. Worshiping with him. Jesus is saying, “There’s reward that’s just waiting for you.”

Matthew 6:7–8: Prayer of Gratitude

Father in heaven, we praise you for the privilege of prayer. We praise you for the joy that is found in simply being with you. We’re in awe even right now at the fact that we’re talking to you and you are listening to us, that you, the God of the universe, right now are listening to us. That’s an amazing thought. You listen to me, you speak to me, that you listen to the people who are praying alongside me right now. You speak to them that every morning, afternoon, evening, all day long, we have the opportunity to be with you.

Help us, we pray, even as we ask for things, not to bypass the wonder of the fact that we are with you. That you are our Father in heaven and you know what we need even better than we do, you know what we need. Oh God, we just praise you for the privilege of relationship with you. We don’t take this lightly, we know this is an incredible privilege that we don’t deserve yet one which we can enjoy today and will enjoy for all of eternity. All glory be to your name, our Father, for inviting us into your presence, to experience your reward every single day.

May we do exactly that, may we experience the reward of being with you every single day? In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.

David Platt

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder of Radical.

David received his Ph.D. from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary and is the author of Don’t Hold Back, Radical, Follow MeCounter CultureSomething Needs to ChangeBefore You Vote, as well as the multiple volumes of the Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary series.

Along with his wife and children, he lives in the Washington, D.C. metro area.


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