How Not To Pray
Topic: Prayer Passage: Matthew 6:5–6:8
The secret to a vibrant, intimate relationship with Christ is a fervent prayer life. Throughout history, those who have walked with Christ most mightily were men and women of prayer. Beyond scripture, such men and women have shown us that prayer is the key to our godliness and the key to our usefulness by God.In Luke 11:1, Jesus's disciples asked Him to teach them to pray because they knew that Jesus's prayer life was key to his power and miracles. It was then that Jesus shared with His disciples what is commonly known as "The Lord's Prayer." But, before Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He taught them how NOT to pray.In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6) the Lord's Prayer is preceded by a warning about the two kinds of prayers we need to avoid because they accomplish nothing:1. DON'T PRAY HYPOCRITICALLY - PROFITLESS EXHIBITION (vv. 5-6)In the course of instructing His disciples to pray, Jesus said "when" you pray, which implies a command. It was assumed that the disciples, and we, would would pray. Therefore, when you pray, don't pray like those who are insincere, or those who make an outward show of piety like the Pharisees. The Pharisees didn't actually want to be holy, but just wanted to appear holy. They sought the approval of men rather than God. Jesus was most directly confronting those who intentionally prayed in public so as to be seen by others. But God can easily see the difference between prayer that is meant for others and those meant for Him. Moreover, prayer meant for others will never be received by God.2. DON'T PRAY MECHANICALLY - MEANINGLESS REPETITION (vv. 7-8)The belief that the more words you utter in prayer, or that long prayers increase the likelihood of God answering your prayers is false. Vein repetition of prayer (e.g., Buddhist prayers or Catholic prayer of the Rosary), repeating the name of the Lord repeatedly and often during a prayer, or mindlessly repeating the same prayer over and over are all examples of vein prayer that is outside of the instruction of the Lord, and therefore are not pleasing to God.Jesus intended the Lord's prayer to be an outline to shape our prayers. He never meant that it be uttered in ritualistic or vein repetition. Instead, Jesus wanted His disciples, and us, to use it as a model on HOW to pray. In light of this, we should perhaps refer to it as "the disciple's prayer" rather than the "the Lord's prayer."In 1 John 3:22, we are taught that "whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight." Every believer who comes before God as an obedient, expectant child to his Father will be smothered with blessings above and beyond anything they could have asked for or even imagined.May your prayers be those of an obedient expectant child of God!