Jesus teaches about prayer

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Jesus teaches about prayer    

Matthew 6:5 “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.”

Extra Reading: Matthew 6:5-15

Jesus was passionate about teaching on prayer. Some people, especially the religious leaders, wanted the people to think they were very holy, and public prayer was one way to get attention. Jesus saw through their self-righteous acts.  He called these men hypocrites for praying not to God but to an audience of people who revered them for their apparent holiness. Jesus assumed that his followers would pray. Prayer in the synagogues was not unusual; however, those who prayed at the street corners certainly had motives other than piously observing the exact prayer time. When people prayed in those locations, not to God but merely so that they may be seen by others, they were not praying at all. Jesus taught that we find the essence of prayer not in public but in private communication with God. There is a place for public prayer, but to pray only where others will notice you indicate that your real intention is to please people, not God. For these hypocrites, people’s praise will be their only reward.

The prayer life of Jesus’ followers would be radically different from that of the hypocritical religious leaders. Jesus did not condemn public prayer. Such prayer was vitally important to the early church, as it to churches today. Corporate prayer has powerful results.  Jesus’ point, however, was that people who prayed more in public than in private should consider their motives. If they really wanted to fellowship with God, Jesus suggested that they go alone into a room, close the door and pray. Prayer in public is subject to concern over correct word usage, political correctness, even pride. Private prayer enables believers to pour out their hearts to God, express their true feelings, and listen in the quietness for God’s answer. Jesus called God the “Father,” an intimate word describing the relationship believers have with him. There is a strong warning coming from verses 7and 8. Repeating the same words over and over (babbling) like a magic incantation will not ensure that God hears these prayers. The pagans focused on how they delivered their prayers, repeating the right words in the right order.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, teach us to pray in private closets. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen

Rev. Samuel N. Modise

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