“Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 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. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”
Imagine standing in front of a crowd with trumpets sounding and heralders hearlding that you are now about to pause to pray! “Silence!” the announcer cries out! “It’s time for this holy person to pray!”
Just the thought of such a scene brings a wince to our faces as we consider the hubris of someone willing to announce their holiness to the world!
And then I think of the times I have prayed publicly in church, before dinner or with a family in a hospital room wondering how my audience might respond to my special choice of words…and I hang my head. Suddenly I don’t feel so holy after all.
THEY ARE NOT MY AUDIENCE!
“They are not my audience!” I cry out in shame. Our audience in prayer is to be to The One and Only God of heaven who desires an intimacy with me that is just between the two of us. There is only God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit that I should be focused upon. He will attend to the hearts of the people around me! It really is not about me!
26 In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. 27 And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God.” – Romans 8:26-27 (NIV)
CLOSE THE DOOR!
Jesus’ elegant prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) shines forth to teach us. And so we learn that our conversation with our God is unpretentious, not littered with mindless repetition, but straightforward, simple yet thorough. It is a prayer that celebrates our total dependence upon God as we live life, wrestling with our pride and arrogance under the ever-cleansing flow of the blood of Christ (1 John 1:7).
“…go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:6)