Best of Daily Reflections: But Wait, There’s MoreDaily Reflection / Produced by The High Calling
When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Jesus’ world was jam-packed with gods. Remember the Greek gods? They stretched from A to Z, from Aphrodite to Zeus. These gods had powers, but they also had flaws, and to get their attention, you had to pray loudly and endlessly. Like the 450 Prophets of Baal who danced and wailed and cut themselves with swords until they were covered with blood trying to get their god’s attention. Elijah mocked them, “Cry louder! Surely he is a god; either he is meditating, or he has wandered away, or he is on a journey, or perhaps he is asleep and must be awakened” (1 Kings 18:20-40).
I watch sports. There are so many TV advertisements. They play the same ads over and over again—Jan nags us endlessly about Toyotathon and Lily keeps trying to seduce us to switch to ATT. They know how hard it is to get our attention so they repeat over and over and over again. The ancients prayed to their gods in this way with endless repetitions.
When Jesus teaches us not to “heap up empty phrases like the Gentiles,” this is what he’s referring to. Jesus wants to make it crystal clear that God is not weak, ignorant, and easily distracted. In fact, our heavenly Father is actually so attentive to our needs that he knows them even before we ask. And even when we are so distressed or confused that we can’t find the words to pray, God translates our groaning and our sighing (Rom. 8:26).
So you might wonder why we need to pray at all—if God already knows everything that we need. It’s not for his sake but for ours. But why?
In 1993, Ron Popeil received the Ig Nobel Prize in Consumer Engineering that is awarded to people whose inventions first make people laugh and then make them think. Ron Popeil is famous for the Veg-O-Matic and the Pocket Fisherman and his famous phrase, “But wait, there’s more.”
In light of Jesus’ teaching on prayer, I am taking it upon myself to award the Ig Nobel Prize to our Heavenly Father for never failing to give us what we ask and need and then going on to announce, “But wait, there’s more.” When you get to the end of your life, you’ll be given a ledger with two columns. The left will list all the prayers you prayed, and the right will list how God answered. You will be stunned to see that the right column is one thousand times longer than the left. You will see how “God has done exceedingly, abundantly more than all you can ask or imagine” (Eph. 3:20). And when you see it, it will make you laugh and make you think, what a great and generous Heavenly Father I have.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: What affect does it have on your heart, mind, and will when you pray? What kinds of things are you too shy, embarrassed, or afraid to pray about? What do you expect God to do in response?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, most people I know complain and confess that they don’t “pray as much as they should.” But we don’t pray to fill a quota. We pray to deepen a friendship with you. We pray to make a record of our needs and so to be stunned at how your responses vastly exceed my requests. There is no God like you, and so I will keep on learning to pray. Amen.
Dave Peterson is an ordained pastor who is the Director of Community Outreach for The Robert and Janice McNair Foundation and Scholarly Advisor for the H. E. Butt Family Foundation. He is the author of Receiving and Giving, Unleashing the Bless Challenge in Your Life. Dave and his wife, Terri, have four adult children and four grandchildren.
Technology at Work
Will there be technology in heaven, or is technology simply for our use while we’re here on earth? What technology will we take to heaven? And what is technology, anyway? God placed humanity on the earth and gave us instructions to take care of it. Does that mean God had technology in mind right from the beginning? We are quick to judge technology and find it wanting, but what if technology can help us as we partner with God as co-creators and restorers on the earth? How would we steward technology differently if we thought it might actually have an impact on the kingdom of God? Our theme Technology at Work explores some of these questions and more.