What is the heart of your prayer? Jesus condemned the Pharisees for for praying out loud, does that mean we shouldn’t pray out loud?
The bible, in the New Testament has several examples of public prayer that is not acceptable. Jesus actually condemned the way they were praying, their intentions were self glorifying. Jesus actually prays out loud in John 17, the Apostles prayed out loud (Acts 8:15; 16:25; 20:36). In Acts 1:14 “These all with one mind were continually devoting themselves to prayer, along with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with His brothers”. Then in Acts 1:24-25 “And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all men, show which one of these two You have chosen to occupy this ministry and apostleship from which Judas turned aside to go to his own place.”
They were clearly praying together and out loud. So, the sin was not in the public nature of the prayer or the fact that people could hear it.
“Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.
The Pharisee stood and was praying this to himself: ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other people: swindlers, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
I fast twice a week; I pay tithes of all that I get.’
But the tax collector, standing some distance away, was even unwilling to lift up his eyes to heaven, but was beating his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, the sinner!’
I tell you, this man went to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
You can see that the tax collector prayed aloud, but from a heart of humility, and God excepted His prayer. The Pharisee wasn’t sinning by praying in public, he sinned by praying with a haughty or proud heart.
Jesus tells says in Luke 20:46-47
“Beware of the scribes, who like to walk around in long robes, and love respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows’ houses, and for appearance’s sake offer long prayers. These will receive greater condemnation.”
Again, its not because he is praying aloud, but because he is being hypocritical and pretentious. He is pretending to have a relationship with God but oppressing the very people that God loves.
Then in Matthew 6:5, Jesus says, “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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”
What is their motive? That is the problem. This loud and haughty prayer is empty words for other men and women to hear.
“let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water”.
“The Lord is far from the wicked, But He hears the prayer of the righteous”.
The Apostle Paul instructs the church;
“Always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father”;
When we pray together, as a body, out loud, it expresses worship to God and encourages other believers.
Jesus is condemning arrogance and hypocrisy in prayer. To use public prayer as a way to show off or build yourself up to impress others, well, thats wrong.
But when we pray with a humble and sincere heart, that prayer is always welcome and can be a great encouragement to others.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.
One more day in our 40 days of Prayer. Press in!
As we continue to our 40 days of prayer remember these points:
1) Pray that we individually, grow in our relationship with God…
2) Pray for family and friends…
3) Pray for our church…
4) Pray that we can be a Godly influence in our community…
5) Pray for our nation…
God is in control.
I Prayed for you this morning!
Have a great day!