More Than Words | Matthew 6:5-6 | Devotional
Matthew 6:5-6 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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 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.
Seizing the opportunity to address the large crowd that followed Him, Jesus went up on a mountainside and sat down. From that place and position, the greatest preacher who ever lived proclaimed the greatest sermon ever preached. In what some commentators call His “inaugural address,” Jesus explained what He expected from His followers. Among the many subjects He taught on that day was prayer.
Interestingly, Jesus began His instruction on prayer by aiming directly at motive. The purpose of prayer is not to impress people, but to communicate with God. To remedy the temptation to impress, Jesus advised a prayer of solitude. And even when our prayer must be public, our heart should be locked in on a one-on-one with God.
Those of us who run in church circles have many opportunities to pray in public. I confess that more than once I have wondered if my prayer impressed. Was it was eloquent enough for a senior pastor? Was it theological enough for those who expected the deep stuff? Was it caring enough for those who were hurting? Was it challenging enough for those who needed a spiritual kick in the pants? Any of you have the same issues? Maybe some who never pray in public have a different twist on the same issue. They are afraid that their prayers will not be impressive enough, so they don’t.
Father, forgive us for being closer to the hypocrites on the street corners than we care to admit. Engage us in a one-on-one with you and keep our focus there. Remind us that if we try to please people we cannot please you. In Jesus name. Amen.