Matthew 6:8 MEANING

Matthew 6:8
(8) Your Father knoweth.--This truth is rightly made the ground of prayer in one of the noblest collects of the Prayer Book of the English Church--"Almighty God, the Fountain of all wisdom, who knowest our necessities before we ask, and our ignorance in asking." Comp. St. Paul's "We know not what we should pray for as we ought" (Romans 8:26). But why then, it may be asked, pray at all? Why "make our requests known unto God" (Philippians 4:6)? Logically, it may be, the question never has been, and never can be, answered. As in the parallel question of foreknowledge and free will, we are brought into a region in which convictions that seem, each of them, axiomatic, appear to contradict each other. All that can be done is to suggest partial solutions of the problem. We bring our wants and desires to God (1) that we may see them as He sees them, judge how far they are selfish or capricious, how far they are in harmony with His will; (2) that we may, in the thought of that Presence and its infinite holiness, feel that all other prayers--those which are but the expression of wishes for earthly good, or deliverance from earthly evil--are of infinitely little moment as compared with deliverance from the penalty and the power of the sin which we have made our own; (3) that, conscious of our weakness, we may gain strength for the work and the conflict of life in communion with the Eternal, who is in very deed a "Power that makes for righteousness." These are, if we may so speak, the lines upon which the Lord's Prayer has been constructed, and all other prayers are excellent in proportion as they approach that pattern. Partial deviations from it, as in prayers for fine weather, for plenty, and for victory, are yet legitimate (though they drift in a wrong direction), as the natural utterance of natural wants, which, if repressed, would find expression in superstition or despair. It is better that even these petitions, though not the highest form of prayer, should be purified by their association with the highest, than that they should remain unuttered as passionate cravings or, it may be, murmuring regrets.

Verse 8. - Be not ye therefore like. Revised Version omits "ye," as the emphatic personal pronoun is not expressed. The connexion of thought is - Seeing you are expected to shun heathen error (Meyer), do not allow yourselves to reproduce heathen practices. By observing these you would be taking a definite way of becoming like (passive, or rather middle, ὁμοιωθῆτε) those who ordinarily practise them. For; i.e. you stand on a different footing altogether from the heathen; you are intimately related to One above, who knows your wants, even before you express them to him. Your Father; Revised Version margin, "some ancient authorities read God your Father." So אָ, B, sah. (ὁ Θεός is bracketed by Westcott and Hort). The insertion is at first sight suspicious, but as there is no trace of such an addition in vers. 1, 4, 6, 14. 18 (in ver. 32 only אָ), it is hard to see why it should have been interpolated here. Its omission, on the other hand, is easily accounted for by its absence in those passages. The internal evidence, therefore, corroborates the strong external evidence of אָ, B. Our Lord here said "God" to emphasize the majesty and power of "your Father." Knoweth; i.e. intuitively (οϊδεν); el. ver. 32.

6:5-8 It is taken for granted that all who are disciples of Christ pray. You may as soon find a living man that does not breathe, as a living Christian that does not pray. If prayerless, then graceless. The Scribes and Pharisees were guilty of two great faults in prayer, vain-glory and vain repetitions. Verily they have their reward; if in so great a matter as is between us and God, when we are at prayer, we can look to so poor a thing as the praise of men, it is just that it should be all our reward. Yet there is not a secret, sudden breathing after God, but he observes it. It is called a reward, but it is of grace, not of debt; what merit can there be in begging? If he does not give his people what they ask, it is because he knows they do not need it, and that it is not for their good. So far is God from being wrought upon by the length or words of our prayers, that the most powerful intercessions are those which are made with groanings that cannot be uttered. Let us well study what is shown of the frame of mind in which our prayers should be offered, and learn daily from Christ how to pray.Be not ye therefore like unto them,..... Do not be imitators of them, and follow their ways, who have only the dim light of nature to guide them; it would be shameful in you to do as they do, when you have a divine revelation for your direction; and especially, because

your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him; and therefore have no need to make use of many words, or much speaking, or long prayers. The omniscience of God is a considerable argument, and a great encouragement to prayer; he knows our persons and our wants before hand; and as he is able to help us, we have reason to believe he will; especially since he stands in the relation of a Father to us.

Courtesy of Open Bible