Reading the Word
Matthew 6:5–8 (ESV) — 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Understanding and Applying the Word
How often do you pray? Do you ever use prayer as a way to draw attention to yourself or as a way to make others think you are more spiritual than you actually are? Jesus told the people not to pray like those who like to pray aloud in public places just to draw attention to themselves. He also said there were others who would heap up empty words and phrases. They would pray really long and wordy prayers thinking that made their prayers more effective.
Prayer is not about us and drawing attention to ourselves. Prayer is not something that requires lots of words for God to hear us. Prayer is simply us talking to God. He hears regardless of the number of words. Jesus was not saying that public prayer is a bad thing, but if our prayers are being used as a way to get others to think more of us, there is a problem. Prayer should be God-focused and sincere. Most of the time it should be between us and God alone in private.
How is your prayer life? Tomorrow we’ll look at Jesus’ instructions on how to pray.
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