Jesus Christ said, “It is written, My house shall be called a house of prayer.”

10 Prayer Principles of the Lord Jesus Christ, Part 2 (Praying Through the Bible #117)

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TEXT: Matthew 6:5-8

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

The great Bible teacher J. Vernon McGee said, “Prayer is the greatest neglected resource that we have; it’s a power that we simply are not using today.” Part of the reason why we are not using prayer as we should is because some of us are going about the business of prayer the wrong way. Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to pray.

In our last message, as we look at these prayer principles of the Lord Jesus Christ, we looked at one of the right ways to pray, and that is that prayer should be a regular, everyday activity. In other words, the disciples of Christ are expected to pray. Prayer is not optional for the Christian, nor does prayer depend on the circumstances of time or feelings. Frankly, if we are always waiting for the perfect time to pray or waiting until we feel like praying, we will probably never pray. So, the first principle that we learn from Jesus Christ is that we ought to pray regularly, every day.

Today, we are going to look at one of the wrong ways to pray that is rebuked by Jesus Christ, and that is: we are not to pray to be seen. Jesus says, “Thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.” The Greek word used for hypocrite is defined as “an actor or a stage player.” In the Hellenistic culture of Jesus’ day, when actors put on a play, they would wear masks. These masks were designed to show the audience the face of the person being portrayed as well as their emotions.

Therefore, a hypocrite is one who wears a mask in order to have some kind of effect on others. The religious leaders of Jesus’ day would make sure that when they gave to the poor, they would do it flamboyantly and in public in order that they might be applauded by men and regarded as holy or good. When they fasted, they would not put oil on their faces and they would go about with a sad countenance so that people would know that they were fasting and think very highly of them. In the same way, with prayer, these religious hypocrites would stand on the street corners when they prayed for the exclusive purpose of having others see and hear them pray. They wanted to be seen as very spiritual in the eyes of the public.

Jesus says that these hypocrites “loved” to pray in the streets. It is not that they love prayer, but that they love being seen praying. These people think very highly of themselves, and knowing that others think highly of them only serves to feed their pride and ego.Jesus Christ tells us not to be like them.

Unfortunately, we have people like this in the church — folks who are eager to accept the invitation from the pastor to pray before the sermon or to give the benediction. When they get up in front of the church, they pray loud and long, but they never pray at home. They are not really interested in prayer; they are just interested in making people think they are real prayer warriors.

The story is told that during one of the political campaigns of Theodore Roosevelt, a delegation came to visit him. The President met them with his coat off and his sleeves rolled up. He greeted the men and said, “Come down to the barn and we will talk while I do some work.”

At the barn, Roosevelt picked up a pitchfork and looked around for the hay. Then he called out, “John, where’s all the hay?”

John, who was in the hayloft, called down and said, “Sorry, sir. I ain’t had time to toss it back down again after you pitched it up while the Iowa folks were here.”

The President was not interested in pitching hay; he was interested in impressing people with his work ethic. As you think about that example, think about your own prayer life or any other aspect of your walk with Christ. When you carry out your spiritual duties, what are you really concerned about. Are you concerned about pleasing God or impressing men? Do you care only what God thinks or do you desire to be seen with approval by others in the church or others in your community? Take heed to Jesus’ command, and don’t pray as the hypocrites do. Make sure that you are praying with the right motives.

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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. Please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…” This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.

The good news is found in John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.

If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.