First Has Its Benefits
Praying Hypocrites – Part 1
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:6-8
Key Verse: Matthew 6:5
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
Pharisees were the spiritual leaders in the Jewish faith during Jesus’ life. They had lots of knowledge and they excelled in disciplined lives. I am sure that if you lived in that day and compared them to modern day church attenders, Pharisees would look much more passionate. All we can see is the outward behavior of people who seem like true worshippers, but God is not impressed with outward godly behavior if our hearts are not motivated by love.
The Apostle Paul had to deal with this issue of hypocritical behavior even in the New Testament church. In Colossians he reminded the Christ followers that, “…regulations indeed have the appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in refraining sensual indulgence” (Colossians 2:20-23). In other words, it is only when the heart has been changed that ungodly behavior can truly be changed.
In our scripture for today, we read of how the Pharisees like to pray. Prayer always looks good for spiritual leaders to do. Unfortunately they had become praying hypocrites. God knew their words in prayer were not really directed toward heaven, but toward those watching them pray. They babbled on and on, drawing a crowd of impressed onlookers! They were rewarded in full by the applause of men. (Continued)
Father, may my prayers be only for your ears. Forgive me when I try to look spiritual to those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.