“your Father knows what you need.” It is often asked, “If God knows what I need before I even ask Him, why do I need to ask Him?” The reason has to do with the fact that God gave people free will to choose their own way and their own life. Many people do not want God’s help and/or they choose not to have Him help, and God cannot give people the power to accept or reject His help but then take that choice away from them by barging into their lives when they need Him.
Parents often experience this with their children. A child may need help with their homework but not want any help. In that situation, the parent has to wait until the child figures things out for themselves or asks for the help. Similarly, we may need help, and God knows we need help, but until we ask Him for it He is not free to give it. That is why prayer is so vital to the Christian life. Prayer is asking God for things, and when we ask God for the help we need, He is free to give it. No wonder God says to be steadfast in prayer (Rom. 12:12; Col. 4:2) and to pray without ceasing (1 Thess. 5:17). Here in Matthew 6:8, Jesus told the people that God knew what they needed before they asked him, but he was teaching about prayer, so the context was that the people would be asking God for things as part of their prayers. Jesus’ comment that God already knew what they needed even before they asked was to give them confidence in their prayer life that God cared for them and was listening to them.