SCRIPTURE READING: Matthew 6
Our Scripture in Matthew 6:5-8 is speaking to those who PRAY; people who take prayer seriously.
PRAYER is one of the greatest acts of the Christian believer. It’s talking to God, whether by thought or tongue and the way a BELIEVER fellowships with God; and the one thing God desires is FELLOWSHIP with His people.
So it is essential that we PRAY and PRAY often and sharing all day long.
However, that we pray is not the concern of Jesus in this passage. His concern is HOW WE PRAY.
It’s possible to PRAY and never be heard by God.
It’s possible to PRAY AMISS– with wrong motives and the wrong way.
Let me rephrase that in a different way. An omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent God cannot fail to know what’s going on this planet. But when we pray with wrong motives, God chooses to ignore that prayer.
It’s possible to PRAY and to be speaking only to ourselves, to have our prayer go no higher than our own ears. Therefore, Christ sets out to teach us the right and wrong motives for PRAYING.
- The WRONG MOTIVE; praying to be seen by men (v. 5).
PRAYER CAN BECOME HYPOCRITICAL
A person can pray for the wrong reasons, with the wrong motives.
PRAYER is a wonderful experience, very rewarding emotionally and mentally and in having our needs met as God answers our prayer. We can begin to LOVE PRAYING and still be praying amiss.
Praying Amiss is simply praying outside the will of God; it’s the offering of prayer but one that is done in ignorance and it’s akin to asking God to go against Himself. For this reason alone is why at times I pray Bible verses–God’s Word for I know with confidence that I’m praying in God’s will.
And it’s easy to PRAY AMISS!
The Scripture declared that we don’t know how to PRAY as we should, hence the GIFT of the new nature and the Helper in the person of the Holy Spirit (Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 2:12).
So what is “Hypocrisy”?
In essence, it refers to the act of claiming to BELIEVE something but acting in a different manner. The word is derived from the Greek term for “actor”–literally, “one who wears a mask”–in other words, someone who pretends to be what he isn’t.
The Bible calls hypocrisy a SIN.
There are TWO forms HYPOCRiSY can take: that of professing belief in something and then acting in a manner contrary to that belief AND…that of looking down on others when we ourselves are flawed. OUCH! Both forms are prayer blockers!!
PRAYER can also become empty repetition.
A person can take any phrase or form of prayer and make it a meaningful experience, or make it a formal and meaningless occasion.
Every Sunday morning before our pastor gives the message, he calls the ushers forward and asks for one to PRAY for the tithes and offerings. And that’s a good thing! However, when it becomes just a ‘formal and meaningless occasion’ the words go unnoticed to man and to God.
Just think how often the LORD’S PRAYER is repeated from rote memory with the mind focused elsewhere.
PRAYER can become too long.
A believer can begin to feel he is heard because of “many words”.
“And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (Matthew 6:7 – New International Version).
“Many words” OR “babbling” –
“Babbling” in the Greek language, the word is “kenophonia”, literally, “making an empty sound” (1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 2:16).
BABBLE sounds like Babel, the Biblical tower where everyone was talking in their own language. Everyone was babbling without paying attention to their neighbors, like the kid who won’t stop talking about his trip to the water park three years ago.
PRAYER can become self-glorifying.
A person can begin to feel he/she must inform and convince God somehow of their great need.
PRAYER can become self-deceptive.
Christ says “when you pray”… He is referring to personal prayer.
I believe that Christ assumes that the BELIEVER does pray, and the idea conveyed is that the BELIEVER prays often.
What do I mean by PRAYING OFTEN?
The Apostle Paul tells us this about praying: “Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:17-16).
I don’t believe that Paul is commanding us to bow our heads, eyes-closed posture all day long. He’s talking about an ATTITUDE of God-consciousness and God-surrender we should carry with us all the time. That’s more than “often.”
Jesus says in His teaching that some love to PRAY, and they are the very ones who stumble in the PITFALL of praying amiss with the wrong motives.
Christ pictures TWO MEN PRAYING.
- One man prays for other people to hear.
- The other man prays to the Father.
The first man is a HYPOCRITE and the second man is a true son of the Father.
CLOSET PRAYERS –
Matthew 6:6 (NIV)
I have to tell you, I like The King James Version when it refers to the place Jesus says to go and pray, in your closet. Just because it’s smaller, more private that “your room”, or “your [most] private room”.
PRAYER is God’s appointed medium through which He acts for mankind.
Sharing and talking together are the ways all people communicate, fellowship, and commune together. This is true for most people and in my opinion, women more than men because they are just more sociable. Don’t ask me why that is, it’s just so.
PRAYER requires our presence, sharing and talking; and God looks forward to His sons and daughters’ fellowship. their communion.
It seems as though few people take PRAYER seriously. Prayer in many cases has become a “rabbit’s foot”–‘wishin’ and ‘hopin’ type of communication. Therefore, if we want the BLESSINGS of God to shower upon our lives and ministries; if we want the work of God going forth in POWER and bearing fruit–we must PRAY and we must INTERCEDE in PRAYER.
Matthew 6:9 (NIV)
“This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name…”
Luke 18:1 (NIV)
Then Jesus told His disciples a parable to show them they should always pray and not give up.
PRAYER, even loving to pray, isn’t a sign that a person knows God. The fact that a person really knows God means that he does pray.
All YAMS are sweet potatoes, but not ALL sweet potatoes are YAMS.
No matter what a person may think in their mind, if they really know God, really believe in God, they will talk to God.
There is nothing that could keep one from PRAYING,
Remember Daniel, even though he knew that if he prayed he would be thrown to the lions, he prayed.
A child of God knows God’s personality, knows Him as His Father who loves and cares for him ever so deeply. Therefore, just as any child who truly loves his father, the BELIEVER talks, converses and shares with his/her Father not because they have to, but because they want to! That’s what you do when you LOVE someone.
This says something to a person who prays primarily in public and prays little if any in private. One must search the GENUINENESS OF THEIR HEART AND PROFESSION.
Jesus says that a man (or woman) who PRAYS TO BE SEEN AND HEARD by others loves to PRAY, but is a hypocrite. Their LOVE is really for the public recognition. Afterall, that’s what people expect from them.
The PLACES where he loves to PRAY….out in public, in the synagogue (church), in the streets (restaurants, and other public areas).
Some love to PRAY PUBLICALLY.
Their LOVE representing the group around them and vocalizing their praises and needs to God. Some have become very charismatic and at ease with public prayer, yet they lack that essential LOVE for private prayer. Christ calls them “hypocrites”.
Some PRAY only in public. They pray for their family (at meals and family prayers, usually with children); in church (when called upon); and in public (when eating in restaurants). How destitute is the PRAYER LIFE of so many!
PRAYER is to be offered to God both in church and in public.
But PUBLIC PRAYER is to be public, not private.
Too often a person has their personal devotions when called upon to pray publically. They have neglected their private prayers and their inner needs haven’t been met. So when he begins to PRAY publically, he/she slips into praying for their own private prayer instead of representing the group.
Man’s ESTEEM is temporary.
The person who prays on the street corner or in the synagogue receives his reward of public recognition. This man’s ESTEEM, this public recognition, fails at several points.
Everything passes even so quickly. A man soon forgets and moves on to other things.
Man’s ESTEEM becomes commonplace.
Even the excellent, oratorical skilled that elicit man’s praise becomes routine and commonplace when performed day by day, Sunday after Sunday. Soon no one acknowledges the public display. Such abilities are merely expected and accepted, and man’s praise and recognition disappear.
Man’s ESTEEM is powerless.
It cannot answer PRAYER; it can only recognize man’s ability to put words together, to see man’s expression, fervency, and emotion.
Man’s ESTEEM can do absolutely nothing about the spiritual needs of the heart.
Let me Post Matthew 6:6 again.
The right motive for PRAYER is praying to be heard by God and God alone.
Our personal PRAYER LIFE is not for general consumption. It is between me and God.
The willingness to take time to PRAY: “When you pray”
There has to be the WILL to pray. Every BELIEVER must take (make) time each and every day to get alone and pray.
A “CLOSET” or “PRIVATE ROOM” is a necessity!
This set-aside, private place is where a personal relationship id developed with God: a Father-son/daughter relationship is absolutely essential.
What then, when we do pray, is our motive? Do we pray in public to be seen, heard by others? Or do we pray in private to be in communion with our heavenly Father?
Again Jesus is talking about MOTIVE and ATTITUDE regarding PRAYER.
Are our prayers intended to be communion with God, a heart-to-HEART conversation? It should be!
In that “closet”, at that time in your heart, you and the Father commune Father-to-child.
That His ear is attentive and His eye sees, and in your quiet time His presence is precious!!
SOURCES FOR THIS BLOG-POST
PHOTOS: Google Image search.
Bible Translations: NIV and Amplified Bibles, except where noted.
The Bread From Heaven Ministries: “Prayer blockers – Praying amiss”
gotQuestions?org. : “What does the Bible say about hypocrisy?”