In this series, we will look closer at each verse of The Lord’s Prayer to see beyond the familiarity of the words and into Jesus’ heart in the matter. Jesus intended this to be a guideline to take us deeper into our prayer life, and not a stumbling stone. We know that Satan is a perverter of God’s Word, and tries to water down the Word to make it of no effect. So, let us not fall into his trap by treating as common something God has sanctified for our good.
5 “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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. (NIV)
This passage is right at the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry, as recorded by Matthew, and is part of what we call “The Sermon on the Mount” and the introduction to The Lord’s Prayer. In Chapter Five Jesus is teaching on the old covenant, the law, versus the new covenant, grace. He says over and over, “You have heard it said” followed by, “But I tell you.”
The people had been living with the law, as given to Moses by God, for more than a thousand years and in Jesus’ day the religious leaders, The Pharisees, had added so many rules to the law as to make it even more impossible for the people to keep.
Jesus said of them in Matthew 23:5-7 that, "Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called ‘Rabbi.’”
Instead of leading the people to God, the Pharisees used their position of influence for their own glory. They are the hypocrites He is referring to in verse five. Our prayers are to be a sweet time of communing with our Heavenly Father, not a show for others to admire our holiness. Jesus said if we make our prayers a show to garner acclaim for ourselves, we have received all that we will ever get for our efforts.
God, I want to glorify You in all I do. The only accolade I desire is Your “well done” at the end of my days. I pray You keep me humble and to remember that I am but Your servant and honored to do Your work here on Earth. Thank You for Your blessings and thank You for allowing me to pray for others as You lead. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Join us next time when we will explore our “prayer closet” and the Lord Jesus’ further instructions on how, and where, to pray.