“But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to you Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.”
Some of the most wonderful, intimate times in the presence of the Father are spent alone with Him. No distractions, no one to perform to, just you and God.
Isn’t such a privilege and honour that we can spend time alone with the creator of the universe? God is never too busy for us. God is never engaged. We all can have a personal, private audience with our Father at exactly the same time. A profound statement yet it is so true. Yet the exciting thing is, is that God want a personal audience with you too. Jesus, (who was and is God) encouraged His disciples to go away, shut out any distractions and have personal and private time with the Father.
This wasn’t a far-fetched ideology. Jesus Himself did this when He first started His ministry. He went away into the desert for 40 days and 40 nights, fasting and praying. Paul had 2 years of intimacy and study time with the Father before he started his ministry. Why? Because intimacy with God is essential for spiritual growth. If we are to be effective in our mission on earth, then we must first learn what it means to be intimate with the Father in private. Any relationship we have here on earth needs a measure of time invested into it. We can’t just expect to have an intimate relationship with someone we don’t spend time with. So it is with Jesus. Spend time with Him and your intimacy with Christ will grow.
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.”
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.