Vs.7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words.
In the gospel of Mathew, particularly in the Sermon on the Mount, Kingdom righteousness demands a reform of inner attitudes. ‘Hypocrisy’ is a root perversion of discipleship. When we use spirituality for human reputation, then we betray our deepest loyalty to God. Dividing our loyalties between God and humans also erodes our ability to carry out disciple’s duties. Disciples are to love Jesus and to expect persecution. One way to make sure that we are not using our religious exercise to show off is to practice them in ‘secret’. Here this passage under reference is Jesus’ moral critique on false piety and hypocrisy. It talks about how we should observe ‘true piety’ in relationship to prayer life.
Prayer is an active way of participating in the working out of God’s plan for the world. It involves words, silence, reciting, responding, or listening. In our spiritual growth prayer is a necessity and it enables us to know the divine will for us. But many a time people see prayer as a means for personal gain and publicity. Prayer should enable us for self-examination, repentance and surrender. The Lord’s Prayer as taught by Jesus (v. 9-15), clearly explains one’s existential personal relationship to God. It doesn’t have any extrinsic or instrumental desire to gain social recognition or to achieve ends other than relationship with God.
In true spirituality, engaging in Prayer is not for social effect. Prayer should not be tied up with our deep desire to be recognized in the community. Prayer should never be a channel for us to be seen by the people around us. By teaching the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is transcending our needs into an intrinsic form of spirituality, into a true, unadulterated desire for God. It is expressed in phrases like, “your name”, “your kingdom” and “your will”. Usually we try to elevate us and our desires through prayer and attempt to get God’s approval for our agenda. Food for nourishment, forgiveness from our sins and protection from temptation are also included in the Lord’s Prayer. It ends with acknowledging God’s kingdom, power and glory. Therefore prayer in true spirituality challenges us to seek the face of the living God ‘in secret’ and try to discover what it means to live in authentic, unpretentious relationship with others and with God.
Gracious God, help us to be genuine in our spiritual walk and to seek You and Your will through our prayer life. Amen
THOUGHT FOR THE DAYWhat are we praying…?
Rev. K. E. Geevarghese, Anaprampal MTC, Kerala.