Tag Archives: Prayer

A Warning Against Hypocrisy

Hypocrite

The word “hypocrite” came from ancient Greek drama. By means of role play, rhetoric or a face mask, the individual was playing-acting. Later, the term “hypocrite” became a designation of someone pretending to be something they are not.

In , the focus is on the Kingdom’s citizen’s conduct in regard to genuine godliness. Jesus begins this section by saying, “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven” (). The conduct of God’s people is to be genuine godliness, which is without hypocrisy. This is seen regarding giving (), prayer (), and fasting ().

Giving ()
Giving to the needy is an important and kind act. However, the danger facing the act of giving is hypocrisy. Despite the kind act of giving, Jesus exposed the motivation of the religious leaders. Their motive was to be “praised by others” (). This pretend piety has its reward – the attention here and now. In contrast to this, Jesus instructed, “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing” (). In other words, give in a way that doesn’t demand attention. God knows your motive and will reward genuine godliness ().

Prayer ()
Prayer is an essential element to the Christian life. Prayer is commanded by the Lord, it deepens our fellowship with the Lord, and is a means that God has ordained in accomplishing His purposes. However, if it is not done with the right motive it is nothing more than pretended piety. Jesus addresses this matter by talking about the motive of prayer () and the manner of prayer (). Interestingly, three times in this passage the Lord says, “when you pray” (vv. 5, 6, 7). This statement assumes that prayer would be a normal part of the believer’s life.

Regarding the motive of prayer, Jesus provides two examples. The first example is of the hypocrite whose prayers are all about them (D.A. Carson refers to this as “play-acting praying”). Their prayers are marked by prideful recognition (Matt. 6:5) and pointless repetition (Matt. 6:7). The second example is genuine and humble prayer. This kind of prayer is marked by private removal (Matt. 6:6) and by plain request (Matt. 6:7-8).

Regarding the manner of prayer, vv. 9-15 are famously known as the Lord’s Prayer. Though it was not a prayer that He prayed, it is His prayer in the sense that He created it. This prayer provides us with a model of how to pray. After the opening words, this model prayer contains six petitions. The first three are concerning God () whereas the final three are concerning us (). This prayer teaches the believer to place their attention on God making it a God-centered prayer. Recognizing that the purpose of this prayer is not to simply be repeated word for word (though that is not necessarily wrong), it provides God’s people with a pattern and model on how to pray.

Fasting ()
Fasting refers to the act of abstaining from food for a period of time, in which the individual would earnestly seek the Lord. In addition to the OT law of fasting on the Day of Atonement, people would fast for other reasons. Sadly, this act of humility and dependence upon the Lord became an opportunity for show (). Jesus commanded that this be done with the motive of honouring the Lord and not man ().

Beware of hypocrisy! Let us serve the Lord with genuine godliness from a heart that is filled with grated toward Him. He knows our motives so let us be warned that hypocrisy is of no eternal value.

6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“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. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

6:1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“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. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing,

so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

“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. Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

“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.

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

16 “And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

17 But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18 that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

If God is Sovereign, why should I pray?

Why Pray?

The question in one way or another has been asked many times, “If God is sovereign, why should I pray?” This question is asked because many struggle with the fact that when we say God is sovereign, we are affirming that He in His eternal counsel has determined all things that will come to pass. This means that nothing comes to pass without His Divine purpose. Knowing that what God has determined will transpire, why pray? This is a very practical and common question.

The Christian ought to confidently pray for the following reasons. First, we pray because we are commanded to. Prayer is not an option for a Christian. The question, “to pray or not to pray” ought not to be asked. Repeatedly throughout Scripture the believer is commend to pray (; ; ). In-fact, when we neglect prayer we are committing sin (). We ought to pray because God wants us to pray. That in and of itself is a sufficient reason why we ought to pray. However, there are more reasons.

Second, we pray because prayer deepens our fellowship with the Lord and helps us depend on Him more. When speaking to His disciples, the Lord Jesus Christ said,

“Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing” ().

We need the Lord so as to receive grace and mercy in our time of need. Prayer is important because it is a personal way in which we depend on the Lord by worshiping Him, confessing our sins to Him, and making requests.

Thirdly, we pray because prayer is a means that God has ordained in accomplishing His purposes. Yes, God is sovereign and has determined the end from the beginning (Is. 46:10). But this does not mean the Christian steps back and says, “I have no need to pray”. In God’s sovereign plan, He has determined the means to the end. One of the means used in accomplishing God’s purposes is prayer. This means, in an amazing way prayer accomplish things. We don’t have to worry about how to work all this out. Instead, we must recognise that our Lord is sovereign () and we are responsible to be obedient to what He requires of us.

As the people of God we must pray. When we do neglect prayer it is to our own determinant. Be reminded that our Lord is the Almighty. For this reason, let us come before His throne in faithful, fervent and bold prayer (cf. ). Why? He wants us to!

18:1 And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

17 pray without ceasing,

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.

Our God is in the heavens;
he does all that he pleases.

16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

The Value of Varied Prayer

Praying Hands

It is the clear teaching of Scripture that we are to give ourselves to consistent prayer (; ; ; ; ). However, at times we can find it hard as we may  struggle with how we ought to pray.

The manner of prayer is a struggle for many, but it ought not to prevent us from praying! We must not be under the impression that there is a single formula to prayer. As we study the Scriptures we learn that prayer takes place in varied ways. An excellent example concerning the manner of prayer is what is most famously known as the Lord’s Prayer (). Though it was not a prayer that He prayed, it is His prayer in the sense that He created it. This prayer provides us with a model of how to pray (click here for a previous post on this prayer).

A common devise to help us remember the different kinds of prayer is the ACTS (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication) acrostic. Consider the following Scripture references to help inform the different ways we pray:

Adoration
One aspect of the believer’s prayer is adoration. This involves praising, worshiping and exalting the Lord. When we think about what Scripture says concerning who God is, there is much we can praise Him for. The psalmist declared, Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised; 
and His greatness is unsearchable” (). When you pray, take time to adore the Lord.

Confession
A second aspect of our prayer time is confession. All of us sin. This is not to be ignored. If you are a believer you will never be condemned (cf. ), but your sin does interfere with your fellowship and joy int he Lord. What do we do about it? The apostle John said,  “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (). Confession of our sin is to be an ongoing practice in our prayers.

Thanksgiving
When we stop and consider all that the Lord has done for us and continues to do for us, we have lots to be thankful for! To be thankful is the will of God (), so it is an essential part of the Christian life. We are to never forget all His benefits (). The words of the psalmist instruct us well, “Oh, give thanks to the Lord, for He is good! For His mercy endures forever” ().

Supplication
The final aspect of pray we will consider in this post is supplication. This refers to the requests that we make in prayer. This tends to be the most commonly employed aspect of prayer. If we rightly use the previous aspects, our requests ought to be in line with what will honour the Lord. Healthy prayer will involve requests (cf. ). We are commanded to Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (). Our supplications among many other things will include prayer for the lost (; ; ; ), prayer for provision (), forgiveness (), protection (), wisdom () and our leaders ().

We are to take time and pray. Let us make use of the variety of ways God has provided for us in coming before His throne of grace.

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving.

17 pray without ceasing,

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.

Pray then like this:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.

10 Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised,
and his greatness is unsearchable.

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Bless the Lord, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits,

136:1 Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,
12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way.

43 And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”

59 And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.” 60 And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved.

11 Give us this day our daily bread,

12 and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.

13 And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil.

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

2:1 First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way. This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior,