Jesus continues to teach about hypocrisy and living to impress.
This time He speaks about prayer.
I'm don't think that Jesus was upset as He was sharing these words with the thousands of people gathered around Him on a mountain. I think He was almost playfully telling them that it is God who they are praying to, not others.
Prayer is a conversation with God, not an opportunity to show off your spirituality.
But we are funny like that. There are really two kinds of mistakes revealed here: when we don't pray at all because we feel we'll be judged for the words we choose and when we think way too much about our prayers so that when we pray in public we can sound eloquent and spiritually mature.
But we can't fool God, can we?
He sees our intentions and often times we are actually boastfully entertained by how "good" our prayers are.
Jesus is not opposed to long prayers or public prayers except when we are seeking accolades from people.
Jesus’ point is: When you pray to impress people, it is not to God that you are talking to, it's a performance.
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.
The interesting thing about this passage of Scripture is that it is found exactly at the center of the Sermon on the Mount! I don't think that Matthew was inspired to place it here on accident. I believe it was supposed to be the climax of Jesus' sermon.
Forgive me for not seizing the opportunities you give me to pray.
Please help me know you so close and acknowledge your constant presence so I can speak with you freely, whether in the prayer closet or throughout the day.
Forgive me for trying so hard for find the right words to say when you simply want to hear exactly what's going on in our hearts.
Give me the boldness to pray, whether in private or in public, prayers that are sincere and from my heart.
In Jesus' name. Amen!
So today our closing prayer is also found in this climactic passage.
It's know as the Lord's Prayer... but I'd like to call it the disciple's prayer.
For it was His disciples that Jesus was teaching to pray.
Please don't pray through these words as if they are some religious blabber
Pray each word like you mean it.
Pray each word as Jesus commanded it... To your Father, who loves to hear the prayers of His children.
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.