Scripture: “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Matthew 6:5,6 NIV
Observation: Jesus instructs on the proper way to pray.
Application: This can present a bit of a quandary for some Christians, especially new or immature Christians. How do we speak with and honor God in all circumstances if we are to do it secretly? Am I to pray over my food in front of coworkers or in restaurants? Am I supposed to close these journal entries with prayer or would that be considered showiness by God? What am I to do, pray publically or not? I believe the answer is twofold. First, in these passages I believe that Jesus isn’t speaking of prayer in the context of praying over food. I believe that he isn’t speaking of prayers of thanksgiving and blessings. I believe he is speaking of quiet time, time alone with God, time in our prayer closet, time of close, intimate conversation. Thanksgiving and blessings, to be sure, are part of the conversations we have when we are alone with God but when we want to thank him for the provisions he has given and to ask him to bless them, that is different prayer. Jesus warns us to be careful to have our private conversations with God in private and not make a show of them. Second, our prayers are a matter of heart. If we want to thank God for all that he had provided because we feel that honoring him before we partake of those provisions is important, then we must. If we influence those around us by our reverence for God by doing so then that’s a bonus for the Lord. If we bow to pray to make coworkers or fellow diners look at us in awe, then we have been served and we have received the entirety of blessing that we are going to get. We prayed for ourselves and our standing among men and not the Lord. Public prayer is a matter of where our heart and intentions lie. When public prayer is proper, we should pray and we should do it to honor God and him only.
Prayer: Father, I pray that when I pray I do it with the purest of motives. I wish to honor you when I pray in both private and public. I ask that you lead and guide me to do so for your sake. I ask this in Jesus’ name. Amen