Relationship, Not “Transaction” In Prayer

“So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8)

Here Jesus tells His disciples that their prayers are to be different than those of the pagan Gentiles. He had just said in :7 that they were not to use “meaningless repetitions like the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.”  It is an ungodly mindset which thinks that prayer is a kind of “transaction” between us and God. This is reflected in what Jesus called the Gentile outlook on prayer: that the more you pray, however little your heart is really in it, the more you will “get” from God. It is like: the more “coins” you put in the “machine”, the more you will “get” out of it.

But He said Christian prayer is not like that: “Do not be like them.”  Instead our prayers are to our “Father, who knows what you need before you ask Him.” In other words, our prayers are based on the RELATIONSHIP we have with God. He is our “Father.”  He is a Person with whom we have a relationship, not a “machine” with which we complete a “transaction.”  There is a huge difference!

Even accounting for the fact that there are certain things that God wants us to talk with Him about when we pray (as expressed in the 6 petitions of the Model Prayer that follows in :9-13) prayer is still to the expression of that relationship we have with God.  It is not as much about “spending a certain amount of time” or “saying the right ‘magic words'” to “get what we want”, as it is BEING WITH God, who already knows what we need, and discussing our needs with Him who loves us. It is not that we don’t lift up requests; we do (:11 “daily bread”). But our requests are not the “transaction” it is for the person with the pagan religious outlook. Our prayer is about RELATIONSHIP, not TRANSACTION.

About Shawn Thomas

My blog,, features the text of my sermons, book reviews, family life experiences -- as well as a brief overview of the Lifeway "Explore the Bible" lesson for Southern Baptist Sunday School teachers.
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