A friend inquires of George MacDonald,
“But if God is so good as you represent him, and if He knows all that we need, and better far than we do ourselves, why should it be necessary to ask him for anything?”
I answer, “what if He knows prayer to be the thing we need first and most? What if the main object in God’s idea of prayer be the supplying of our great, our endless need – the need of Himself?”
Hunger may drive the runaway child home, and he may or may not be fed at once, but he needs his mother more than his dinner. Communion with God is the one need of the soul beyond all other need: prayer is the beginning of that communion, and some need is the motive of that prayer.. So begins a communion, a taking with God, a coming-to-one with Him, which is the sole end of prayer, yea, of existence itself in its infinite phases. We must ask that we may receive: but that we should receive what we ask in respect of our lower needs, is not God’s end in making us pray, for He could give us everything without that: to bring HIs child to his knee, God withholds that man may ask.
Ever been annoyed at the theological confusion inherent in Jesus’ suggestion that God knows what we need before we even ask it? I have. Like the inquirer above, I’ve found myself wondering “if God is so good, and God knows my needs, then why bother with the red-tape? What’s the deal with this whole asking bit?”
George MacDonald proposes that maybe God knows, better than we do, that what we really “need” is communion with God. And when we come to God with requests, with our asking, we find that the act itself, the coming to God, the communion with God, is in and of itself a fulfilling of our request.
Not, as George says, in its “lower” form. Meaning, just praying to God doesn’t bring about the instant fulfillment of our ask. But in the asking we receive fulfillment more fulfilling than what we are asking for. We receive God.
It’s worth repeating: “Hunger may drive the runaway child home, and he may or may not be fed at once, but he needs his mother more than his dinner.”