Prayer is a key part of the Christian experience. In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus critiques the Pharisees for having an external religion, a religion that does not reflect the heart. However, Jesus also does not tell His disciples that they should not need to worry about giving, praying, or fasting for, after all, Christianity is all about the heart. On the contrary, the Lord Jesus Christ expects His disciples to give, to pray, and to fast. But He expects them to do these things with a very different spirit, a different motivation, and a different awareness about who God is.
The most important influence on how we pray is what we think of God.
Guarding Against Hypocritical Prayer
The first first lesson about prayer in Matthew 6:5-8 is that we should ever be on guard against hypocrisy in prayer. Verse 5 illustrates the pride of the Pharisees. They pray because they long to be applauded by men. Christ is not condemning all public prayer. His point here is that all of our prayer must be done in humility and with a view of God alone.
Are we convinced of He accepts us in Christ; and hence, unconcerned with whether the world accepts us or not, or whether the world approves of what we do? Do we know the freedom that comes from knowing God as our heavenly Father? And do our prayers reflect it? The Lord Jesus Christ is reminding us to go to the Lord in prayer not with hypocrisy but with humility, always having a right view of Him.
Prayer is spiritual fellowship
with the livng God.
Guarding Against Manipulative Prayers
Another lesson on prayer in these verses is that we should be on guard against attempting to impress or manipulate God in prayer.
Prayer is spiritual conversation with God, whereby we lift up to Him our desires in accordance with His will and in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is spiritual fellowship with the living God. It is not a mantra. It is not something to alter the state of our consciousness. And it is certainly not designed to manipulate God. It is an opportunity for fellowship on earth with our heavenly Father.
A Genuine Spiritual Practice of Prayer
Another lesson on prayer is these verses is that we must cultivate a genuine spiritual practice of prayer.
Notice also in Matthew 5:6, Jesus contrasts the pride of the Pharisees and the slavish fear of the pagans with the proper attitude and posture of the Christian. The Christian goes to the Lord in prayer in humility and in sincerity.
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