Don’t Pray Like Hypocrites

Jesus taught his disciples how to pray. He said, “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 award” (Matthew 6:5 ESV). Instead, Jesus encouraged them to pray in their room, in private. He assured them, “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you” (vs. 6).

This is in a bigger context of also giving and fasting without seeking recognition. People often want to have some kind of recognition for their kind deeds. But Jesus’ point is that God listens to people whose hearts are right. It doesn’t matter whether people applaud us for doing kind things or for praying. Consistency in prayer and giving is far superior to being an “influencer.”

This is an important message for today when we live in the age of social media influencers. These people genuinely do great works but at the end of the day, they are being rewarded for their work by means of publicity and financial compensation. Jesus was telling his followers to pray for the sake of praying, not for recognition. Then he taught them to pray the Lord’s prayer without “heaping empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think they will be heard for their many words” (vs. 7).

We should pray like the Lord–consistently, in private, and to the point. God will certainly reward our prayers!