Matthew 6:5-7 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. 7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.
“Prayer should not be regarded as a duty which must be performed, but rather as a privilege to be enjoyed, a rare delight that is always revealing some new beauty.” – E.M. Bounds
Interestingly, the Lord Jesus starts His teaching on prayer, by clarifying what prayer is not rather than what it is. In the previous chapter, He says unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees you will certainly not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matt 5:20). The Pharisees were famous for their display of religious piety, which was more steeped in rituals and legalism rather than genuine love for God. And now in these verses, He is giving us further insight into this important topic.
God is not impressed!
Jesus says that God is not impressed by the outward show in prayer but by the condition of your heart. Prayer is not to be an opportunity to show off. Prayer is not about impressing the watching world, but about impressing God. Prayer is about the depth and confidence in your relationship with God, not the fluency of your language. Prayer is not about proving the extent of your knowledge about the topic, but about the extent of your dependence on God.
Prayer is your simple, real and honest conversation with God, to which sometimes others may be witnesses.
Do your prayers impress God or those listening?
Lord may my prayer always be you-centered. Forgive me for times it has been otherwise, I pray.