“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.” (Matthew 6:7-8)
Jesus tells us this in order to motivate us in prayer. He doesn’t tell us about the Father’s foreknowledge so that we can become passive and feel that prayer is not worth the time.
Firstly, we must embrace the mystery that our prayers are powerful, effective and needed, even though the Father knows what we need before we ask Him. Jesus teaches us to pray and so it must be important to pray.
We can find prayer intimidating if we feel that we might get it wrong; What if I ask for the wrong thing, don’t include everything, don’t confess all of my sins…? However, we are to come simply and bring our prayers to Him and we can trust Him to deal with what we truly need.
Pray the promises
Don’t so babble and talk that you forget to listen to the Father tell you what you really need! Prayer is about listening to God - principally in scripture - tell us what we really need. As He speaks, we are to pray what He reveals. For example, we read of Daniel,
‘In the first year of Darius son of Xerxes (a Mede by descent), who was made ruler over the Babylonian kingdom— in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, understood from the Scriptures, according to the word of the Lord given to Jeremiah the prophet, that the desolation of Jerusalem would last seventy years. So I turned to the Lord God and pleaded with him in prayer and petition, in fasting, and in sackcloth and ashes. I prayed to the Lord my God and confessed: “Lord, the great and awesome God, who keeps his covenant of love with those who love him and keep his commandments…' (Daniel 9:1-4)
We are to plead the promises. Lloyd-Jones wrote,
‘The Father's used to use this great term -- 'Pleading the promises.' You never hear it now. Why? Because people do not really pray any longer, they send little telegrams to God. They think that that is the height of spirituality. They know nothing about 'wrestling' with God and 'pleading the promises.’