“I knew you were going to say that!” It’s a statement we find ourselves making to someone who we know well, well enough that given the specific situation we knew they’d say what they said before they said it. Diann and I have celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary, so this happens quite often with us, especially her knowing what I’m going to say; I’m so predictable.
One of the attributes of God is that He knows what we will say before we say it (also, what we will think or do before we think it or do it). We humans can predict what someone close to us will say part of the time, but not all of the time. This is where God is different. He knows with 100% surety what we will say (and also what we will think or do).
This is difficult for us to comprehend. How can God know the future before it happens? In fact, there are those who believe God can’t know the future, it’s called open theism. But it doesn’t jive with the Bible at all. All of the prophecies throughout the Bible demonstrate God knows the future.
It shouldn’t surprise us that we can’t fully grasp the idea that God has foreknowledge. We don’t fully understand our own bodies and minds, so why should we expect to fully comprehend God, including His ability to know the future?
God exists outside space and time. Picture a time line; God isn’t on the time line like we are, He’s above it, and can see it all, past, present and future! That’s what King David realized. He prayed, “Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord.” (Psalm 139:4) So why should we pray if He already knows what we will pray? Because He desires a relationship with us and wants to hear from us.
A positive aspect of His having foreknowledge of what we will pray is that we don’t have to explain all the details, unless it’s helpful to us in a cathartic way. He is not surprised or caught off guard by whatever we pray. In fact, He quite likely has already set into motion events and circumstances in answer to our prayer before we pray it!
What’s great about praying to God is that we can do so with the confidence that He’s way ahead of us and He has a plan! He’s got it covered!
“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” (God speaking through Isaiah the prophet, Isaiah 65:24)
Note: For years I had to look for a photograph of old hands folded in prayer, or find an old person so I could photograph their hands. In this case, I put my camera on the tripod, set the timer, and took a photo of my own old hands! This is the photo at the top of the post.