Impress God with prayer

Our prayers are important to God, though there are those whose prayers sometimes target human ears, not God’s.

It seems absurd in the extreme that some people pray to be seen and heard by others when prayer is specifically for God. The Lord Jesus talked about this type of person in Matthew chapter 6. He told his listeners that prayer should not imitate “the hypocrites.” The word “hypocrite” in the New Testament hearkened back to the days of Greek theatre. Actors would wear a mask depicting their character. A hypocrite is someone who wears a false face.

In every age, there have been those whose prayers are not meant for God’s ears but to impress a listener. In his commentary on Matthew, Sellers Crain wrote, “The hypocrites love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. The Jews often prayed while standing and looking up with the arms outstretched to heaven.”/1 This was an acting performance for other people and not a humble prayer to God.

Sometimes people use God for their purposes. Jesus said, “Do not be like them” (Matthew 6:8). God doesn’t care for an effort to impress others when we should humble ourselves before him. God knows our hearts and minds like no one else (Acts 15:8).

God wants us to express our thoughts and desires to him in prayer. We should be careful, however, not to use the privilege of prayer to impress others. Instead, our prayers must be genuine attempts to communicate with and please God.

 1/ “Truth for Today Commentary, Matthew 1-13” by Sellers S. Crain Jr. Resource Publications, Searcy AR.

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