Empty Words – A Hypocrite’s Language

7-8th March Weekend Edition

“When you pray don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.”

Matthew 6:5

Corporate prayer, when done in the right way, can be so edifying, encouraging and uplifting. Yet there is a stark difference to praying as a united body and praying so everyone can hear your eloquent long speeches to God. The key to an effective prayer, as we talked about yesterday, is asking in faith, believing that you will be answered and be thankful for the response you will receive. An ineffective prayer, is a prayer that is prayed so others can hear what you are saying to make yourself look good and sound clever. This is exactly what Jesus was addressing here in today’s passage. The Pharisees and Scribes, often named as the hypocrites, tended to pray loud, long and wordy prayers, not to enhance their relationship with God but to show off their superior spirituality to others around them. However Jesus directly challenged this attitude and corruption of what prayer really is. He even adds that the only reward for their prayer would be the response they received from the people listening. It may seem harsh but praying in this manner is completely missing what prayer is. There is no use in praying, if you are praying so other people can enjoy your churchy jargon. Prayer is a heart to heart communication with God. Period. Again, that is not to say that praying out loud or corporately is wrong. On the contrary; when in the right context and in purity, honesty and sincerity, corporate prayer can be so powerful and strategic. The issue Jesus challenges is that of an insincere and self-edifying prayer. When you pray, whether corporately or privately, imagine that you are sitting at the very feet of Jesus and having a real conversation with Him and that He is the only one listening.

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