How NOT to pray
Matthew 6:5-8 is another passage, another instance where the Lord Jesus Christ teaches us about prayer. He does so by pointing out 2 things on how NOT to pray.
1. "Don't be like the hypocrites."
Hypocrites pray to be seen by people. That's their aim, for people to see and maybe to be impressed with their 'prayerfulness'. Jesus, matter of factly says, "Well, they've already got their reward." You want people to admire you, then that's what you get. As for getting God's favor and favorable response, NO way.
This is a strong warning about hypocrisy in the Christian. God wants authenticity. He wants sincerity and honesty. He will reject hypocrisy 100% of the time. What does tell us then? We should watch out and guard against hypocrisy in our lives.
"Keeping up appearances" is so wrong, especially when you're 'one way' in church and out there but totally 'another way' when you're at home and in private.
2. "Don't be like the idolaters (Gentiles)."
Gentiles or idolaters here are those who don't know God nor do they have a relationship with Him. They babble when they pray. They pray like they don't know and feel God in their lives. They rely on the power, persuasion, and attractiveness of their many words to get what they want.
This is a warning against excessive prayers. Prayers that are too wordy and flowery tend to be less sincere and out of focus. People who babble in prayer is often a sign that they don't spend much time talking with God. Have you tried partnering with someone during prayer gatherings, and listen and feel like, "Hey, it seems this person hasn't prayed in a long, long time. Confessing all past sins just now, not comfortable with talking to God, etc., etc."
God wants to be intimate and direct with you. Babbling in prayer won't achieve that. Be sincere, be plain. Come and speak as you are and think.
How to pray
1. Pray in private
Prayer time is between you and God alone.
2. Shut your door
Remove yourself from distractions.
3. Speak with God
Don't orate. Don't deliver a speech. Speak, but also, listen.
4. Be frank
God knows your heart. You can express anything while remaining reverent and trusting.
5. Trust God for your needs
God knows all your needs. Don't get caught up in presenting them one by one. Speak what's closest to your heart, what's most pressing at the moment. But don't pray like you're not sure whether God is paying attention to your life. Because He is, at all times.
Will update this post with further thoughts.
Meanwhile, today is Day 2 of my reading on 'how to pray' by Pete Greig via bible.com.
Highlights from the book:
- The best advice Pete Greig got on prayer is, "Keep it simple, keep it real, keep it up."
- We shouldn't get over-complicated in prayer.
- The Lord's prayer is 30 words long in the original language, readable in about 30 seconds.
- Prayer is the most natural and simple thing.
- Prayer requires no particular physical posture, only the posture of one's heart. You may close your eyes, or not. You may use guided words, or not.
- God's presense is freely available to us all at any time, in any place, through Jesus (Hebrews 10:19).
- God invites you to pray simply, directly and truthfully in the full and wonderful weirdness of the way he’s actually made you.
- Go for a run until you sense God’s smile.
- Yell Hallelujah if that’s honestly your thing.
- Spend time with God in a way that is joyful and life-bringing for you?
photo credit to himsan