“Pray Then Like This”

 “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.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from evil.'” Matthew 6:5-13

‘Your flesh will want to make much of you rather than of Me. You are prone to want personal applause or profit from your prayers, instead of My glory. Don’t be this way, and turn from it– then, pray like this…’ Jesus always taught with acuity because He knew the heart of men. His instructions on prayer included dos and don’ts that focus and empower communion with God. His familiar example of the “hypocrites” (Pharisees), who made pompous show of their prayers, illustrated a stark contrast to His own practice of honor, submission to, and dependence on His Father. (Matthew 3:13-4:11; Luke 3:21-22; 4:42; 5:1-2,9-11; John 2:25; Hebrews 4:12,16)

Prayer is a vital mode for communication with the Almighty, and a privileged gift for His children not to be wasted or abused. It faces God-ward, not to be uttered or practiced for others. When we pause and invite the Lord to fill our vision, our affection and utterances will be toward Him alone. Do we haste to speak, and fail to block our minds from an audience we might subconsciously desire to instruct or amuse? What if we approached the Almighty in holy hush, concentrating on only Him?

Beware empty phrases, meaningless repetition, formulaic snippets that are merely noise. Make every word count. Acknowledging God as supreme, we fit Him as our lens, and prayer flows through His goodness and worth. Emotions, self, and needs are swallowed in the overwhelming privilege of approaching His Highness because Jesus opened the way. (Matthew 27:51)

Offering myself a living sacrifice to test and know His will, then yielding to all its parameters, is essential. Whose will drives my words? Would I spend heavenly grace on selfish wants, or needs that He has meted out so He can supply? Do I expect Him to overlook sin baggage, or come with confession to be first cleansed? (Romans 12:1-2; Philippians 4:19; 1 John 1:9)

When I conclude, would I cast myself fully on His grace for living?

Holy Father in heaven, I need thee every hour. Help me focus on You as closer and more real than any care, person, or thing. I offer You my prayers and prayer life, that You be exalted and I be in proper place to depend on, serve, and magnify Your name.

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