Jesus Teaches about Prayer: 3030 Challenge #Day 10

 

prayer

PRAYER: 

Sometimes when we pray, it’s hard not to wonder what other people are thinking about our prayer.

Did I say the right words?

Did they notice that I had trouble finding that perfect phrase? Did they think it was too long? Or maybe they thought it wasn’t long enough! Did I “wow” them? Did I embarrass them? Or did I just embarrass myself?

All in all, praying in public is a lot of pressure. There are just so many ways you can goof up a prayer—and then what would people think?

Today’s post is one of the righteous acts Jesus told us in our last study to be careful not to practice in front of people.

[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 men. 

In Jesus’ day there were people whose prayer was nothing more than performance. There were certain customary times for prayer, and these people made it a point to make sure that when it came time to pray, they were in a public place where everyone would be sure to see them praying and hear them praying. They got a lot of attention and they loved it.

They were champion prayers—prayer warriors. And Jesus said, don’t try to be like them. That’s not what prayer is all about.

These people may be claiming to talk to God, but in reality, they’re talking to the people around them. Their motive is not to worship God, but to impress people. So God says, they’ll get just what they’re looking for:

I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 

Notice the key elements in this type of prayer:

  • Action: It is a public speech, a presentation to men.
  • Motive: It is done for man’s praise, so people will ouu and ahh.
  • Result: The reward is paid in full. You receive human praise.

How many of your prayers are said not for God’s benefit, but for the benefit of the people who are listening?

I think it’s easy to slip into this kind of prayer. Personally I don’t like being called up to pray in public (I’m usually tensed or kind of shy) as much as I don’t like praying out loud. But I remember in one or two occasions I was asked to say a prayer, I slipped into this kind of prayer. I wanted to impress. I was very careful with my choice of words, Scripture references and all.

Prayer can be a kind of performance, saying the right words in the right way, smoothly, loudly and clearly, pausing at just the right moments for effect. For some, talking to God requires a special language to show proper respect.

For some, prayers must begin a certain way and end a certain way. Apparently it’s very important to get the form just right. And that’s one of the reasons that they make written prayers, especially those in rhyme—so we can know what to say when we pray:

Now I lay me down to sleep.
Pray the Lord my soul to keep.

You know I’m not saying that there’s anything wrong with written prayers. What I am saying is that when we pray, we’re often too concerned with “getting it right”, and that the reason we’re so concerned about that is because other people are listening, and we want our prayers to sound good to them.

But Jesus says, that’s not the kind of prayer I want you to learn. And by contrast, he tells us in verse 6 how we should pray:

[6] But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.

When you pray, make it a prayer between just you and God. Go someplace where you can’t be seen—a hidden place—and God, who also can’t be seen, will meet you in that hidden place.

ALWAYS “IN SECRET”?

I don’t think this verse means that all prayer MUST be done in private.

Jesus himself sometimes prayed out loud with his disciples present. In the book of Acts, there are several examples of public prayer in the early church.

What he is trying to say is that prayer is something you say to God. Even if it’s out loud and other people can hear it, remember that you’re not talking to all those other people. Prayer is talking to God. So Jesus is saying, even if you’re with other people, keep your communication between you and God.

 I think it’s really important to be precise here in our understanding. Jesus is not saying that you’ve done something wrong if people hear your prayer. He’s not even saying that it’s wrong if people are impressed by your prayer. What he’s saying is that it is wrong to pray for the purpose of impressing people. It’s not an issue of who knows about it or what they think about it. It’s all about your motive. Why did you do it? For people? Or for God?

And if like me, you struggle a lot to pray out loud or rather pray in front of people, let me suggest something that is working for me: Ignore all those people. It doesn’t matter what they think. Just express to God your real thoughts in your own words and in your own way. Be yourself. God already knows you and he knows your thoughts and he loves you, so just talk to him and don’t worry about anyone who might be listening. It’s none of their business.

And by the way, if you’re one of those people who think that it is your business, cut it out! God didn’t appoint you to be the prayer sheriff.

The REWARD:

The reason it’s so important to guard our motives in prayer is because the reason WHY we pray will determine the outcome. Jesus urges us to pray in secret, so that our motives will be completely pure. And

Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Those who pray from pure motives will be rewarded by God.

I think it’s important to remember that the answer God gives us may not always be the answer we want. But God promises that when we pray to him—not pray so others will applaud—but when we really pray TO him, then he will answer our prayers by giving us whatever answer is the very best for us.

There’s one more thing Jesus adds about prayer:

[7] And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 

Prayer should be: intentional, thoughtful, meaningful words and actions directed toward God. Not  some formulas or written codes or methods and traditions that has lost its meaning overtime. Does God answer our prayer because we enter the ‘prayer mode’ once the phrase ‘lets pray’ is declared? Does God answer our prayers because we kneel? bow our heads? lift our hands? close our eyes? begin with a certain phrase- say: “Our dear Heavenly Father”? Does He answer us because we say ‘Amen’ at the end of the prayer?

I’m not saying doing any of those is bad. What I am saying is that many of those things we do by rote without any meaning, without any sincerity. We don’t take the time to stop and THINK about what we’re doing and why we’re doing it. We just do it and we think God hears us because of them.

Real prayer—kingdom prayer—is not about posture, or location, or frequency, or eloquence, or using the proper words. It’s about sincerity. It’s about meaning. It’s talking to God as if you really were talking to God because you ARE talking to God.

So don’t worry about the formulas. Just express yourself.

[8] Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

Sometimes people wonder, “If God already knows what I need, then why should I tell him about it in prayer?” I think the answer is that even though God doesn’t need us to tell him, we need us to tell him. When we talk to God, it reminds us that we depend on God and it demonstrates that we trust him. And we need that. We don’t need to wake God up or get his attention.

The point is that prayer should not be automatic or a mindless tradition. It should be filled with meaning and significance. We should pray as if we were actually talking to God, because we are. That’s the kind of prayer that God appreciates and God answers.

Think about this:

How many of your prayers are said not for God’s benefit, but for the benefit of the people who are listening? 

Why are you praying?

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  • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

    Excellent Article Sister Grace

    Prayer deals with not only communication to God. It deals with a person being honest, humble, and it can inspire people to be even better human beings than before. We have to be sincere when we pray and prayer is very important. You do feel joy in your spirit after prayer. Prayer is our personal time with the Lord. Prayer is beautiful and it causes us to make sure that our lives should always revolve around truth and wisdom.

  • truthseeker2436577@yahoo.com

    Excellent Article Sister Grace

    Prayer deals with not only communication to God. It deals with a person being honest, humble, and it can inspire people to be even better human beings than before. We have to be sincere when we pray and prayer is very important. You do feel joy in your spirit after prayer. Prayer is our personal time with the Lord. Prayer is beautiful and it causes us to make sure that our lives should always revolve around truth and wisdom.

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