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Praying Through the Bible #118
TEXT: Matthew 6:1-8
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Evangelist D.L. Moody once said that he received so many blessings from God that one day he prayed a very short prayer. He simply said, “Stop, God. Amen.” That was it. He felt as though he was drowning in blessings — he had received so much and he was grateful for it. Perhaps the day will come when we might feel the need to tell God to stop blessing us, because He’s done so much for us in answer to prayer. Maybe we will reach that point if we learn and live by the prayer principles of Jesus Christ.
So far in this series, we have looked at two principles that Jesus taught regarding prayer:
1. Prayer should be a regular, everyday activity. In other words, prayer is not optional for the Christian.
2. Prayer ought not to be done for the purpose of being seen by others. Jesus Christ criticized this type of praying as religious hypocrisy because it was done so that they could be seen as very spiritual in the eyes of others. Not only in prayer, but in every part of our spiritual lives, we must ask ourselves if we are doing what we do from the heart for God or just to be seen with approval by others.
Today, we are going to look at the reward of hypocritical praying. Yes, Jesus Christ teaches that hypocritical prayers will be rewarded. He says, “when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”
Now, the Jews were very ritualistic about their prayers. They were not into spontaneous praying at all. All Jews were required to repeat the Shimah each morning and each night. In the Old Testament, the Shimah was simply a sentence from Deuteronomy that went like this: “Hear, oh, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” However, in the New Testament era, the uber-religious rabbis had gathered together other verses from Deuteronomy and Numbers that Jews were to memorize and recite at least twice a day. Many Jews recited this prayer at set times thrice a day. When the time came to pray, you stopped what you were doing and recited this prayer. Now, many of the common Jews were not too excited about this, and they just recited the prayer with no real meaning as a means to get it over with and fulfill their religious duty.
The rabbis and Pharisees, on the other hand, were heavily invested in these prayers. By standing on the street corners in order to be seen praying, they maintained their status among the people. So, they prayed long, elaborate prayers. Scholars state that some rabbis even made up prayers for nearly every occasion — for rain, for fire, for holidays, for harvest time — whatever it was, they made up a prayer for it, and then they would teach these prayers to the people. However, they did this not with the intent to teach the people the power of prayer, but to satisfy their own prideful and fleshly egotism. And, Jesus says, they got what they bargained for — they got their “reward.”
What kind of reward is Jesus talking about? Well, they wanted men to praise them and look up to them, and that is what they got. The word used for “reward” is a business term meaning “wages.” In other words, the religious hypocrites got what they worked for. The tragedy of this, however, is that God owes them nothing. God is under no obligation to answer their prayers because they were not really praying to Him in the first place.
These hypocrites were saying the right words with their mouths, but they were saying them with the intent of impressing others. They were praying in a self-centered manner, and they were rewarded with the human applause that they truly sought. We all must consider in our hearts whether we want to be rewarded by God or by men. Are we praying for God to hear or for men to hear us?
A man named Francois Fenelon was the court preacher for King Louis 14th of France in the 17th century. One Sunday when the king and his attendants arrived at the chapel for the regular service, no one else was there but the preacher. King Louis demanded, “What does this mean? Where is everybody?” The preacher replied, “I announced that you would not be coming to church today, in order that your Majesty might see who serves God in truth and who flatters the king.”
Are you attending church to be seen by men? Are you giving to others to be rewarded by men? Are you praying to be heard by men? If you are, Jesus lets us know that you will get your reward… but it won’t be from God.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. Please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…” This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
The good news is found in John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in twenty-three foreign countries. He is the author of thirty-four books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts, The Prayer Motivator Devotional and the Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report and the Second Coming Watch Update. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, and a Master’s degree in Religion from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for twenty-five years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.