TEXT: Matthew 6:5-8
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.
J. Vernon McGee said, “Prayer is the greatest neglected resource that we have; it’s a power that we simply are not using today.” Part of the reason why we are not using prayer as we should is because some of us are going about the business of prayer the wrong way. Yes, there is a right way and a wrong way to pray. One of those wrong ways is praying to be seen, which Jesus condemns in this passage. 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.”
Most 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. The Shimah is a sentence from Deuteronomy that says, “Hear, oh, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” However, in the New Testament era, the super-religious rabbis had gathered 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, they stopped what they were doing and recited this prayer.
While many of the common Jews were not too excited about this, and just recited the prayer to fulfill what they were told was their religious duty, the Pharisees 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.”
They wanted men to praise them and look up to them, and that is what they got. The Greek word translated as “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 owed them nothing. God was under no obligation to reward them for faithful praying 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? If you are praying for men to hear you, Jesus lets us know that you will get your reward, but it won’t be from God.
Now, if you are with us today and you do not know Jesus Christ as your Savior, allow me to show you how you can place your faith and trust in Him for Salvation from sin and Hell.
First, accept the fact that you are a sinner, and that you have broken God’s law. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.”
Second, accept the fact that there is a penalty for sin. The Bible states in Romans 6:23: “For the wages of sin is death…”
Third, accept the fact that you are on the road to hell. Jesus Christ said in Matthew 10:28: “And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” Also, the Bible states in Revelation 21:8: “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.”
Now that is bad news, but here’s the good news. Jesus Christ said in John 3:16: “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.” Just believe in your heart that Jesus Christ died for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead by the power of God for you so that you can live eternally with Him. Pray and ask Him to come into your heart today, and He will.
Romans 10:9 & 13 says, “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved… For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.”
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. I am sorry for my sins, and today I choose to turn from my sins. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. I trust Jesus Christ as my Savior and I choose to follow Him as Lord from this day forward. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you believed in your heart that Jesus Christ died on the Cross, was buried, and rose again, allow me to say, congratulations on doing the most important thing in life and that is accepting 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.”
If you accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior today, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know. There is some free material that we want to send you. If you have a prayer request, please e-mail that to us as well, and we will pray for you until you tell us to stop.
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books including the Essence Magazine, Dallas Morning News, and Amazon.com national bestseller, Letters to Young Black Men. 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.
He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, 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, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others.
He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty University’s Rawlings School of Divinity (formerly Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary). He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Ministry degree.
He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica since 1987. God has blessed their union with seven children.