Prayer: The Attitude of the Action
Posted by Brad Quiring on September 20, 2017
Matthew 6:5-8 (NKJV)
5 “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. 6 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. 7 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. 8 Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
Prayer is a key part of being a follower of God. In fact, from what we see in the Old and New Testaments, prayer is essential. We cannot call ourselves believers in Jesus or followers of God without incorporating prayer as a priority action in our life. It is an action, but there is an attitude behind it. Jesus addresses this in his “Sermon on the Mount” in Matthew 5 - 7. To correct the attitude, Jesus gives us the keys:
1) Prayer is about God, not us. It is about God’s glory, His plan, His desires, using His methods and in His time.
“Public prayer” is good: Publicity prayer is evil (v. 5, “To be seen by men”). There are many examples of public prayer in Bible. The words were inspired by God Himself and recorded according to the plan of the Holy Spirit. They are good and helpful to us today. The issue comes from earlier on in Matthew 6:1-4. When we do good deeds that help people but make a big deal about it in order to draw attention, and ultimately praise, to US, not God. The same goes for prayer. Public prayer is good, but when public prayer turns into “self-publicity” prayer, then we’ve crossed the line.
Therefore, even in public prayer, we need to “shut our door” and go to a “secret place”. Focus our minds and hearts on God in our prayers, then focus others’ minds and hearts on God through our prayers.
2) Pray to God our Lord. God is referred to as “Father”, the Lord. In the Middle East culture, the Father in the family is the head who makes decisions, sets the direction and supplies the needs of the family. The father also accepts all responsibility – it is authority with tremendous responsibility. Therefore, we must consider God as the Father and Head of our “household”, which is our personal lives and The Church. When we pray, we pray that God’s as our Father and Head will do his work.
3) Prayer is our act of submission to God. When we pray, we affirm to ourselves and others that God is the Lord of our lives and that we depend on him and submit to him. We also recognize that since He is God, Lord and our Father, we have full confidence in Him and His work. With this in mind, we do not go into “vain repetitions as the heathen do.”
Vain literally means empty, meaningless, with no redeeming qualities, without purpose.
Repetitions is “babbling.” When we pray this way, in one sense God hears, “Blah, blah, blah”, “Yadda, yadda”. It is saying much without saying anything, in the hopes that through constant yacking and nagging, God will hear and then answer. In other words, we think we can control God and force him to do our will. This describes the “heathen” attitude toward God. When we pray with empty words and repetitions, we pray like someone who has no relationship with God.
Let’s be clear: God is our Father, We are His children. It’s not just us thinking God is our father, like a puppy dog following friendly person home, rather, God has intentionally made us His children through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When we believe this fact and truth, and accept Jesus as our only Saviour and only Lord, God opens the door to us becoming his children. We see this in John 1:12, “Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God”.
Pray to THIS GOD. Your loving Father who saves you, cares about you, gives you what you need according to His perfect plan, wisdom and love.