The Secret Place

How can we eradicate hypocritical prayers? (Matthew 6:5-8) Christ Jesus says don’t pray like them, they, or those others. Matthew 6:5~And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. (stage actors) For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. (ESV) Ever been a stage actor? Offering up a begging prayer to your parents? 

As a youngin’, I did a little public praying, where I’d challenge my archaic parents, born deep in the last century to chillax and cool out, I’d drop names like So-and-so, Everybody, and They. Then in the midst of a spirited discourse, (not arguing, mind you) though veins seemingly displaced were brandished on display amidst the expanse of a forehead, while flesh tones were being replaced with varying degrees of salmon, scarlet, chili and even a patch of vermillion. With the pressures of blood climbin’ like Hillary and Tenzing Norgay in ‘53, ascending Everest’s summit, still, with wry smile and hopes of victory, I clutch my own flag of preference ready to stake my claim at another eminent and impending selfish victory. 

That’s right, I proclaim this prayer in the name of…Wait? What happened? This just in, the Parental’s have retorted in a daggers rebuttal by saying I’m not raising So-and-so and if memory serves me correct, They have a whole heap of trouble hanging over their head and if you like Everybody so much move-in. I’ll even help you pack, and to prove there are no hard feelings, I’ll give you a ride. I know, told you I was sinner, thank God for grace, not getting what we deserve. We all pray some pretty selfish prayers, even in public. Here, Christ Jesus isn’t forbidding public prayer, which is a vital part of worship. In fact, Jesus Himself often prayed in the presence of His disciples, and large crowds. A good example is His blessing as He feeds five thousand people. John 6:11~Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and…He did the same with the fish. (NIV) 

The Bible records many other appropriate, public prayers, one of which we use as a benediction. Solomon prays when dedicating the Temple. (2 Chronicles 6:12-42). I really like verse 40~Now, my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place. (ESV) You might want to take that prayer home and be praying it over your prayer closet. Eyes open, ears attentive, that’s good stuff. What Christ Jesus is condemning is performance. Remember hypocrite is a name for stage actors. Christ Jesus is looking for Authentic people, living Authentic lives, and walking in an Authentic relationship with a God who spared not His only Son. (Romans 8:32-35) 

So, how do we Eradicate Hypocritical Prayers? Jesus says in Matthew 6:6~But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. (ESV) In light of this, we understand the importance of Solomons prayer over our own secret place. Location is not the focus, rather our it’s our motive. Shut the door means to shut out everything, leave all of your devices outside and get alone with Jesus where He is our sole, singular, exclusive focus. I have small kids, work from home a lot and in the summer, VBS is not just dating season, but a praying season.  

Moreover, Jesus says don’t use lots of empty phrases, stop trying to pray like somebody else. God already listens to Somebody else. Just pray, talk to God and use your words, they are good words, begin with a dialogue, practice listening to the divine, Lectio Divina, Divinely Listening. Don’t think that because some use big words or long litanies that God responds better to pious prayers. Nope, He loves to hear from you. This reminds me of Romans 12:3~As your spiritual teacher I give this piece of advice to each one of you. Don’t cherish exaggerated ideas of yourself or your importance, but try to have a sane estimate of your capabilities by the light of the faith that God has given to you all. (JBP)

Today, is there a place in your life where some sanity is needed? Yes, we can all grow up and become doctors, lawyers, and policemen, but the truth is we will most likely become something altogether different. Then why not own what we have become as we change to be more like our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. So let’s stop any and all stage acting and become Authentic followers of Jesus.

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