Friday, March 10And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites”

Scripture: Matthew 6:5-15

5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.

8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

9 “This, then, is how you should pray:

“‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, 10 your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’

14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

Some thoughts:

In this passage Jesus is giving us insight into prayer from God’s perspective! The disciples once asked the Lord to teach them how to pray. (Luke 11:1-4) Well, here is a lesson. Praying to be seen or admired by people isn’t effective prayer. Have you ever prayed in public where you were more focused on the words and thoughts you were praying rather than being aware you were talking to God? Judging by most people’s reluctance to pray in public, this is probably not most people’s response.

But then I wonder how many of us follow through on the next part of his discussion. Do we regularly go into a private place to pray to our Father who is unseen? Jesus further explains: “Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Note the irony of praying to someone who is unseen by us, yet who sees us. As we pray, we are acknowledging two simultaneous worlds, the visible world in which we live with the invisible dimension of heaven. Therefore, when we pray, we do not need to describe or explain to God the details of the situation about which we are praying. He is more aware of the details than we are and sees quite clearly.

So, when we pray, Jesus reminds us not to fill the time with endless words, but to be clear and to the point. He then gives us an example of what he means . . .  the most frequently prayed prayer in the Bible, the Our Father. Carve out some time this week and find a quiet place where you can spend time alone pouring out your heart to the Lord. A closet in your house may not be a bad place to start! (Don’t get sidetracked into cleaning it out, you can do that later! You know the devil is not concerned with neatness; he only wants to keep you from praying!)

Examples of Paul’s prayers: Col 1:9-14, Phil 1:9-11, Eph 1:15-19

Music: “Blessings”  Laura Story

Prayer: Come now little man, turn aside for a while from your daily employment, escape for a moment from the tumult of your thoughts. Put aside your weighty cares, let your burdensome distractions wait, free yourself awhile for God and rest awhile in him. Enter the inner chamber of your soul, shut out everything except God and that which can help you in seeking him, and when you have shut the door, seek him. Now, my whole heart, say to God, ‘I seek your face, Lord, it is your face I seek.’             –Anselm 1033-1109