Did you ever hear someone else praying and think, “That guy is a phony?” Jesus did. And he warned us against phony praying. He said:
5 “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. 6 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.
7 “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. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. ( Mat 6:5-8. – ESV)
The essence of prayer hypocrisy is paying more attention to people than you do to God. God knows your heart, knows what you need, and loves you. He invites us to pray as a natural part of our relationship. Nothing we can say will impress Him or manipulate Him. He wants us to keep it real.
The temptation to impress others causes some to love to pray out loud. The flip side of that same temptation causes some to hate praying publicly, fearing that others will not be impressed. Jesus says we can avoid all that by praying privately – honestly talking things over with Our Father.
That doesn’t mean it’s wrong to pray with others out loud, but when we do, the same principles apply: Remember Who you are speaking to, pray what is truly in your heart, and keep it real between you and God.
You know what happens when a dad comes home from serving overseas and pays a surprise visit to his daughter in school? When she see him and runs to him, the last thing on her mind is how she looks and sounds to everybody else. Pray like that…