I still can vividly remember celebrating St. Nicolas when I was a child. Christmas was an event for adults in Belgium, and we children didn’t celebrate it. Our day was a few days earlier, on the 6th of December: St. Nicolas!
There was always double reason for excitement when we woke up on this extra special day of the year. For one thing, schools were closed. For another, there would always be tons of presents waiting for us!
But would they be what we wanted?
We would have spent the weeks before rummaging through toy stores and making up extensive “wish lists”, and we would have made sure we shared these with the strange, bearded man all dressed up in red. His answer to our requests would always have been the same: “Ho, ho, ho! I’ll see what I can do!” But would he? Would we have the presents we so longed to have?
Actually, for the most part, St. Nicholas was always able to far surpass anything I ever wished for. I didn’t know how he did it, but he knew the exact fire truck I had dreamed of having. In fact, he even seemed to know about that gigantic crane I saw at the store but had never thought to add to my wish list!
Imagine my disillusionment when I finally discovered that the real St. Nicholas of my life was not a strange bearded man dressed in red, but my own parents. I was frustrated and disappointed, but I was also filled with questions. I had never shared my wish lists with my parents, yet they seemed to know what I wanted anyway. If they already knew what I wanted, then why did I need to bother putting together a wish list?
In later life, with the onset of Answers2Prayer ministries, I have received many similar questions. Not about St. Nicholas; but about God. People often ask, “Why do we need to pray if God already knows what we really need? Why tell Him our troubles if He already knows what we’re going through?”
Being a dad myself, when Christmas and Birthday times draw near I can often guess what it is that my boys long for. I don’t really need a wish list, but it really makes me feel special when they give me one. I love to see their excitement when they share their thoughts and their dreams with me. Just listening to them makes me feel closer to them! In fact, I long for moments when I can be alone with my boys. I hunger to know, from their mouths, what they are going through, what thoughts and plans and dreams are going through their heads. I try to take one of them out somewhere special every week in order to give us the possibility of sharing some of the concerns we have, some of the special events that have happened in our lives, and some of our hopes and plans.
God is just the same. He may know exactly what we need. He may also be able to identify with what we are going through, but He hungers to have that intimate relationship with us. He longs to be able to have us share our burdens and our joys with Him. He loves laughing with us; but He also loves to hold us in His arms and cry with us. He is specifically happy when He sees that we anticipate spending time with Him.
Therefore, prayer is the avenue for a relationship with God. But it goes even beyond this. It is through this relationship that comes by prayer that we open the door for God to give us wisdom and strength!
If you haven’t already, would you like to experiment God in ways unheard of? He wants you to be his friend and wants to carry your heavy burdens. Matt 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” NIV Nothing is too difficult for Him. Mark 10:27 “All things are possible with God.” NIV Once you experience Him personally in your life you won’t want to live without Him any longer. He will give you guidance, inner peace and an abundant life filled with adventures. You will never be alone any longer! He will always be there for you! Matt 28:20 “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” NIV
Come to Him in prayer and share with Him your wish list. May it be healing, may it be hurt, and may it be lost opportunities. His friendship will help you face tomorrow with a bright smile on your face. He won’t let you down!
So what are your planning to buy for your family for Christmas?
P. S. Jesus acknowledged that God indeed knows what our needs are before we even ask for God’s help. Matt 6:7-8 “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think 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.” NIV
But instead of seeing in this a disadvantage to pray, He saw in this a benefit to pray. God knows our needs and still He listens!
(To access the entire “Why Pray?” devotional series, please click here.)