Matthew 6: 5-8
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. 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. 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. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
On Friday evening I spoke with a long-time friend. For many months she has been on my prayer list and he is good enough to give me some very specific areas and needs in her life. I write them down in my prayer list and set aside some time each morning to work through my list.
Some time ago I heard someone observe that among the many requests that could have been asked by the disciples of Jesus – the performance of miracles, application of parables, techniques for studying Scripture – they asked this, “Lord, teach us to pray.”
If you have ever heard a powerful eloquent prayer delivered in public with confidence, enthusiasm and lots of volume, it is easy to be intimidated. Is this what a good prayer is all about?
When Jesus addressed the subject of prayer in the sixth chapter of Matthew, He first made it clear what prayer is not.
Prayer is not about displaying eloquence for all to see. Some people prefer to be seen and heard by other men over communicating with the one true God.
Instead Jesus encourages His disciples to find a quiet place – a prayer closet – and shut the door. In private we are not seeking to impress others with our spirituality. In private we can express what is deepest in our souls. In private we can pour our hearts out to God who knows all that we need.
Next, Jesus tells us to keep our prayers simple. I like this quote from Pastor Alistair Begg from Cleveland by way of Scotland –
“Prayer is an acknowledgment that our need of God’s help is not partial but total.”
A simple prayer does just that, after all “your Father knows what you need before you ask him”, so why beat around the bush?