How To Pray
Daily Devotional Matthew 6: 1-8
As a child, many of us were taught to kneel beside our bed to pray. But we can also pray while standing, walking, running, or even lying down. It is not the position we are in when we pray that matters; what is most important is the attitude of the heart.
Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
In today’s passage, Jesus describes the proper heart posture, not just for prayer but for all our righteous acts. Jesus warns, “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven” (Matt. 6:1). The fault Jesus highlights is one of motivation. The problem is not that people see us but that we do these things “to be seen by them.” Instead of being an act of worship or a form of communication, this kind of prayer turns into a public performance.
As a negative example, Jesus pointed to the practice of those who stood in prominent places such as street corners or the synagogues. This is a reference to the practice of some of the Pharisees, whom commentator Rodney Reeves calls “the fashion models of righteousness.” As a second negative example, Jesus mentioned the pagans “who keep on babbling” in the hope that they could bowl God over with their long prayers (v. 7).
The solution Jesus offers is to avoid putting our righteous practice on display. Instead of seeking the spotlight, Jesus urged His listeners to “go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” (v. 6). Rather than attempting to manipulate God with your words, open your heart and simply ask God for what you need.
>> Your prayer does not have to be a work of art or a formal speech. It does not even need to be very long. You are not putting on a performance for God’s benefit or for anyone else. When you pray, simply say what is on your heart, and God will hear.
Pray with Us
Teach us how to pray about our specific needs. Teach us the correct posture for approaching You with our fears, thanks, and confessions. You are gracious, attentive, just, and loving.