"When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites. The hypocrites love to stand in the synagogues and on the street corners and pray loudly. They want people to see them pray. I tell you the truth. They already have their full reward. When you pray, you should go into your room and close the door. Then pray to your Father. He is there in that secret place. Your Father can see the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you."
— Matthew 6:5-6
In almost every place you go and visit with Christians, there is a deep, underlying conviction: Our walk with the Lord, our life of discipleship, our power over sin, and our love for God would all be greatly enhanced with more time in prayer.
Without realizing it, a culture obsessed with privacy finds its most intimate and private gift, prayer, lived out in public more than in private. Prayer is about developing a relationship and dependency upon God as Father, not about being seen. Prayer is about seeking God, his will, and his grace, not about gaining a reputation or a set of admirers. Jesus is reminding us that God has sent us an invitation to visit with him in prayer. To give up that for the approval of the crowd is not only shameful, Jesus says it's damning.
Abba Father, I want to know you and experience your attending presence. Forgive me for the times I have prayed in ways that drew attention to me, or to my "piety," instead of focusing on my relationship with you. Time in your presence is such a gift! Thank you. I find it unfathomable that you, the King of Ages and Creator of the World, long for me to come into your presence. Thank you for hearing me. Thank you for giving me such an awesome gift. Thank you for your Spirit who intercedes for me when I pray. Thank you that I can pray with confidence knowing that I will be heard because of the mighty name of Jesus, through whom I pray. Amen.
Today's Verses in Context
"Be careful! When you do good things, don't do those things in front of people. Don't do those things for people to see you. If you do that, then you will have no reward from your Father in heaven. "When you give to poor people, don't announce that you are giving. Don't do like the hypocrites do. They blow trumpets before they give so that people will see them. They do that in the synagogues and on the streets. They want other people to give honor to them. I tell you the truth. Those hypocrites already have their full reward. So when you give to poor people, give very secretly. Don't let any person know what you are doing. Your giving should be done in secret. Your Father can see the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you. "When you pray, don't be like the hypocrites. The hypocrites love to stand in the synagogues and on the street corners and pray loudly. They want people to see them pray. I tell you the truth. They already have their full reward. When you pray, you should go into your room and close the door. Then pray to your Father. He is there in that secret place. Your Father can see the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you. "And when you pray, don't be like those people that don't know God. They continue saying things that mean nothing. Don't pray like that. They think that God will hear them because of the many things they say. Don't be like those people. Your Father knows the things you need before you ask him. So when you pray, you should pray like this: 'Our Father in heaven, we pray that your name will always be kept holy. We pray that your kingdom will come, and that the things you want will be done here on earth, the same as in heaven. Give us the food we need for each day. Forgive the sins we have done, the same as we have forgiven the people that did wrong to us. Don't let us be tempted (tested); but save us from the Evil One (the devil).' Yes, if you forgive other people for the things they do wrong, then your Fatherin heaven will also forgive you for the things you do wrong. But if you don't forgive the wrong things people do to you, then your Father in heaven will not forgive the wrong things you do. "When you fast, don't make yourselves look sad. The hypocrites do that. Don't be like the hypocrites. They make their faces look strange to show people that they are fasting. I tell you the truth, those hypocrites already have their full reward. So when you fast, make yourself look nice. Wash your face. Then people will not know that you are fasting. But your Father that you cannot see will see you. Your Father sees the things that are done in secret. And he will reward you.
All the followers sang a song. Then they went out to the Mount of Olives.