Take a few seconds, and think about what you need, right now. Go ahead I’ll wait…
Got it? You may have at some point shared this need with someone. Perhaps a Christian brother or sister. Someone who claims to be a believer in Jesus, and they may have given you this advice, or something similar to this: Oh, just keep praying, just keep pressing in. Just keep at it. You’ll get your answer! Remember that God already knows!
It sounds like good advice, and I’m sure that such advice is given with the very best of innocent intentions, but what does it actually mean? And also, what picture is this advice really painting of God? Well, in this study today, we’re going to explore that, and what it really means when Jesus said that the Father in Heaven, your Father, already knows what you need.
So as we begin today, I asked a couple of questions in the opening… the first was what does the typical advice mean? The advice of “just keep praying, just keep pressing in, keep at it and you’ll get your answer. God already knows.”
And furthermore what kind of picture does this advice paint of God? Most people who are familiar with the scriptures and the parables told by Jesus, associate this common advice with the parable of the unjust judge. That story is found in Luke 18:1-8, and let’s read, as Jesus tells the parable:
“And he spoke a parable to them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;
Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man:
And there was a widow in that city; and she came to him, saying, Avenge me of my adversary.
And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man;
Yet because this widow troubles me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me.
And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge said.
And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night to him, will he delay long with them?
I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man comes, shall he find faith on the earth?”
Now this is some amazing stuff here, and it shows us something very fundamental about our Father God here as well.
Notice that it is the unjust judge, the one who does not care about mankind; the one who does not have any regard for his fellow-man, that is the one who must be badgered and pestered continually in order to receive the needed help.
Contrast this with what Jesus says about God… the unjust judge had no love for people, (he didn’t even have respect for God), and yet because of continual bother, he still gave the widow what she wanted in the end.
In contrast, Jesus said about God that he will avenge his own chosen ones quickly! Jesus said that God will not delay long! This is the opposite of what we typically think, expect or believe. And this is why I suspect that Jesus said what He did at the end of verse 8: but when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?
You see, we often have the idea that we must pester God, repeatedly until He “does something”. We think that we must be the spiritual squeaky-wheel, until God gives us the oil. We still see Him as the unjust judge, when in-fact He is our Father!
Something is very wrong with the common idea of God that we have, when the common idea is not how Jesus Himself described the Father to us! And Jesus naturally saw it coming, which is why He made the comment about faith. Will He find faith on the earth? Will He find that information about God being a loving attentive Father who quickly avenges His own without delay? Or will He find everyone rather seeing God as the unjust judge, who needs to be wearied into submission – as if that would even be possible!
We’ve in-essence forgotten who God really is. We’ve lost the ability to trust Him, and instead are reacting as though He actually doesn’t want to help us, and we need to “beat Him into submission”. Again, as if that were even possible.
If God is God, do you really think that you, by speaking words, could tire Him out in such a way? Think about it. And in-fact by us even thinking that we need to badger Him shows that we really do not understand or know His character at all.
Take for example, what Jesus said in Matthew 6:31-33:
“Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed?
(For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things.
But seek you first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added to you.”
This is a fairly well-known saying by Jesus, but sometimes things can become so familiar that we begin to forget the point and the meaning of what was said, and this may be one of those times.
Notice what Jesus is actually saying here: He says, take no thought for your provision. Do not worry about your perceived needs, such as food, drink, clothing. Now why would Jesus say this? Some people will tell you that Jesus said this because material things of this world really don’t matter… that may sound super-spiritual, the problem is it’s not what Jesus teaches here.
This may surprise you, but Jesus never taught hyper-spiritualism that the things of this world don’t matter. And you’re not wrong for considering them either. If you take a step-back and look at what Jesus says here, what He is counseling, is not to take thoughts of lack. Instead of accepting negative thoughts, and verbalizing your perceived lack (take no thought, saying), instead you should be accepting and verbalizing the truth about your loving and attentive Heavenly Father God!
Jesus is not teaching a doctrine that worldly needs are not important and don’t really matter… in-fact quite the opposite. In verse 32, He actually makes it clear that the gentiles (unbelievers in this context) actually seek after (crave in confusion) regarding these things. But why? Why do the unbelievers crave provision in confusion?
It’s precisely because they do not know or believe the second-half of what Jesus said: Your heavenly Father knows that you need these things!
You see, Your Father (note: not just “God”), but specifically Your Heavenly Father, Your Daddy God, knows that you do indeed need provision. He’s not telling you that worldly provision doesn’t matter and to just shrug it off in favor of spiritual things… that’s actually foolishness.
What He is saying is that you do not have to be in confusion and craving of these things as the unbelievers are. The provision of these things should not be your concern, your focus, or where your mind is focused so intently on – nor do you have any reason to be accepting negative thoughts or speaking lack, as so many people often do.
Again, the reason why is because you have a Heavenly Father, you have a Daddy God who is not an absentee Father, nor is He an unjust judge who doesn’t care, but in-fact He cares deeply about you.
This is the key to it all, as Jesus makes clear in verse 33. He says: Seek first the Kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
Notice very clearly what He says to seek, because a lot of people just skim over this part and miss the point.
The kingdom of God, and His righteousness. That’s Jesus, my friend. That’s His kingdom, and His righteousness we are to seek. Not our kingdom built by our own hands, and not our righteousness earned by our own efforts, performance or Old-Covenant Law-keeping either.
This is specifically His kingdom, and His righteousness. The kingdom and righteousness of Jesus Christ. When we have Him, then we know for ourselves, personally that what Jesus said is true for us. That we are a beloved child of God, and we know that our Heavenly Father is well aware of our needs and able and willing to provide for us.
And knowing this causes us to not be in confusion, or to bend to the negative thoughts of lack that oppress so many people today. But instead we will have the faith that Our Father in heaven holds our entire life (including provision), safely in His hands.