How Not To Pray

Praying Like Hypocrites & Heathens

It is notable that before Jesus taught on prayer that he first pointed out to his followers how not to pray:

“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.

“Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. (Matthew 6:5-8)

We have to believe that before Jesus addressed prayer—that the disciples already had a prayer-life—such as it was. We also know that the entire Sermon on the Mount (which includes the ‘Lord’s Prayer’) was remedial teaching, corrective, a back to basics. So the two templates that the disciples had been exposed to when it came to forming their own prayers came down to (a) a quality of showmanship or (b) a quantity of verbiage. Both, Jesus said, is not how to pray.  

How then are we to pray? 

Jesus uses the endearment, “your Father” three times as he instructs the disciples how to pray “in the secret place” and when it comes to “the things you have need of”. 

Prayer, then, is not a flawless performance before others nor is it a babbling repetitious ritual. It is to be a conversation with our Father in heaven who sees us always and knows our needs before we even start praying. 

Talk to Him today. 

Lead with, “Father…