Summary: A study on private prayer.
1. HYPOCRISY IS EXPOSED
“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”.
The word for “hypocrites” means an actor or showman. Jesus was most likely referring to the Pharisees who loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.
A word of caution. The Saviour is not saying you should never pray in public. Jesus often prayed in public. He is simply saying that we shouldn’t pray to impress others.
2. SECRECY IS ENCOURAGED
“when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret”.
Pray in secret. Get alone with God. It may be a room, a car, a field or a beach. Public praying should be short in comparison with private praying. Your prayer-life should be like an iceberg. Only the tip can be seen!
3. REALITY IS EXPECTED
“when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking”.
Roman Catholics repeat Ave Marias and Pater Nosters. Muslims repeat prayers five times daily. Hindus repeat mantras. All these are vain repetitions.
Repetition is not wrong. It is not wrong to repeat the Apostles Creed or the Lord’s Prayer as long as we mean what we are saying. Jesus repeated Himself in Gethsemane. But He meant every word. The important thing is that we mean what we pray.
Take time to be holy, the world rushes on;
Spend much time in secret, with Jesus alone.
By looking to Jesus, like Him thou shalt be;
Thy friends in thy conduct His likeness shall see.