‘When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites.’ Matthew 6:5 GWT
Back in the first century, actors were called ‘hupokrités’, meaning a stage-player or one who pretends. When Jesus called the Pharisees ‘hypocrites’, He was accusing them of acting out a role and not being genuine. God isn’t moved by our attempts to fake it.
Author John Ortberg points out five things about their prayers:
(1) They had become a shallow exercise rather than a deep relationship-building one.
(2) They were rituals, rather than authentic expressions of a loving heart.
(3) They were long and wordy, designed to impress others.
(4) They were filled with meaningless clichés.
(5) They became a cause for pride rather than an opportunity to express humble reliance on God.
Can you imagine your child approaching you with a whole bunch of religious ‘thee’s’ and ‘thou’s’? How would you feel? When it comes to prayer, Jesus said: ‘When you pray, don’t be like the play-actors. They love to stand and pray… so that people may see them at it. Believe me, they have had all the reward they are going to get. But when you pray, go into your own room, shut your door and pray to your Father privately. Your Father who sees all private things will reward you. And when you pray don’t rattle off long prayers like the pagans who think they will be heard because they use so many words… God, who is your Father, knows your needs before you ask Him.’ (Matthew 6:6–8 PHPS)
You can pray anywhere, at any time: in your car, lying in bed, while you’re exercising, or at work. All God asks is that you be spontaneous, personal and honest. In other words, pray from your heart.
SoulFood: Rev 15–18, Mark 11:1–11, Ps 124, Pro 12:26
The Word for Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright 2023