Thoughts for the day from Matthew 6...
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.
After having been asked to pray, if you're like me, you'd probably confess that you have on more than one occasion "practiced" that prayer in your mind in advance before you actually prayed. As I was reading today's text, I couldn't help but wonder - why? Why DO we practice our prayers before we pray in front of a crowd, even a handful of them - especially, if we don't really know them? Again, if you're like me, we'd have to confess that it's because we either don't want to make a fool of ourselves stumbling through that prayer or because we want, well... we want the glory. And in most occasions, it's probably a combination of the two.
I'm not saying this in judgment nor condemnation - I mean, I'm confessing to it myself. There's a line in today's text that many of us miss or sort of skim through that I think is worth noting today. After Jesus tells His disciples not to pray like the hypocrites who love to basically stand in churches and in public to display their piety (which is basically a unwitting confession of their religiosity), He tells them that - "they have received their reward in full." And in that being the only person in the history of mankind to speak only the truth wasn't enough, He actually begins by saying, "Truly I tell you! (exclamation point is mine)" Now, when He who is the truth says - "truly," that's worth noting. What reward is it that they've received in full? It's definitely not any reward from the Father. So what is it? The reward that Jesus is talking about is exactly what they were looking for - the accolades of man.
Just a reminder, that we're different than the Pharisees. I think most of us practice our prayers out of fear - and not necessarily for accolades. In other words, we do it because we don't want to make a fool out of ourselves - and that's why we "babble" (repeat things again and again!). And though we're covered by our Father's grace and He actually hears His children's prayers, our motivation may be a bit "off." This post isn't about whether or not we receive our "reward" from our Heavenly Father because of the way we pray. Again, He listens to ALL of our prayers because that who He is and who we are to Him. This post is about HIM being the center, the inspiration, and the motivation of our prayers - and HIM receiving all the glory. Be conscious of that today and pray simple prayers focused on Him. #desiringGod2017