“Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full.” Matthew 6: 5-1, 5

HOW NOT TO PRAY

Jesus talked a lot about prayer and in Matthew chapter 6, He provided two examples of what NOT to do.

  1. Praying for the Wrong Reasons: Many religious leaders in Jesus’ day performed their prayers as actors on a stage – to be seen and applauded for their piety. It’s as if they were saying, “Look at how spiritual I am! Look at how educated and righteous I am!”

Jesus said there is a big difference between being a Godly person through actions done for God’s glory vs. actions done seeking the approval of others. So what’s your motive? If you’re striving to “look” like the ideal Christian just for the sake of other’s approval, you need a motivation check.

  1. Praying Empty Prayers: Jesus was referring to the Gentiles, who didn’t know the one true God, when He spoke about praying empty prayers. Even Christians can fall into this trap. Instead of repeating words and phrases that sound “spiritual” in hopes of gaining God’s attention – pray honest and sincere prayers.  It’s the content and the heart that God cares about.

So what’s your motivation when you pray? Do you pray simply to appear “spiritual” in group settings? Do you have words or phrases you repeat when your heart’s just not in it? We’ve all gone through the motions: blessing a meal, a prayer before bed – it’s easy for our prayer-life to become routine. But Jesus says that prayer is about our heart connecting with God’s. Maybe it’s time you started praying that God would help your heart better line up with His, because that is what prayer is all about.

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