To Impress Others
…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 (Matthew 6:5).
“Hypocrites” here is a codename for “Pharisees”. It’s pretty unlikely in our day and in British culture that anyone will be impressed by someone praying loudly and eloquently on a street corner. They will likely be ignored or scoffed at. In Yahshua’s day, it was evidently different. There were people who loved to make a big show of outdoor praying – all to get respect and show everyone how holy and spiritual they were! They were not praying to Yahweh; they were praying to impress others. This is the reward they sought – and they got it. We can learn a lesson here, though. If we pray in church or with other believers, we need to check ourselves. We need to make sure our prayers are sincere, and we are not showing off. If we are praying just to impress people, we have no reward from the Father.
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 (Matthew 6:6).
Yahshua provides the rather obvious antidote to this. Toddle off to your own room (without shouting out to everyone, “Hey, guys, I’m going to pray, so keep the noise down for the next hour!”) and pray to the Father. Just you and the Father – no one else around to impress. This is where it gets real.
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him (Matthew 6:7-8).
We can but guess at what specific pagan rituals Yahshua had in mind, but what is clear is this: It was all repetitive jabber jabber jabber. Words for their own sake like a magic charm to unlock the god door. Endless repetition till the gods caved in and granted the request. Why use three words when twenty will do? This is not prayer in Yahweh’s eyes. He already knows what we need, so we don’t have to impress Him with the right formula. Words mean nothing if the heart is not right. Yahweh is our Father and we can essentially speak to Him as a child would speak to the perfect parent.