RIGHT SIDE OUT Part 2 – Praying without hypocricy, religion as it acts towards God Three part series – Mathew 6:1 to 18 For this Sunday: Mathew 6:5 to 8
I – INTRODUCTION - Historical and Contextual background Mathew 5:21 to 48 - WHAT MEN BELIEVE . INSIDE MORAL RIGHTOUESNESS through 6 illustrations Mathew 6:1 to 18 focuses on the practice of the law, WHAT MEN DO. In here Jesus gives three illustrations to emphasize his point A.) Acts towards others (vs. 2 to 4) – Giving B.) Acts towards God (vs. 5 to 15) – Praying C.) Acts towards ourselves (16 to 18) – Fasting Once again Jesus here contrast the true teaching of God from the hypocritical, emphasis on the outside teaching of the Pharisees. This time he discusses OUTSIDE FORMAL RIGHTOUSNESS.
I – THE AUDIENCE OF PRAYER A.) The Hypocrite’s audience “ 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.” – Mathew 6:5 “ Ug sa magaampo kamo, ayaw kamo panig-ingon sa mga maut; kay sila, aron makita sila sa mga tawo, mahigugma sa pag-ampo nga magatindog sa sulod sa mga sinagoga ug diha sa mga likoanan sa kadalanan. Sa pagkatinuod, magaingon ako kaninyo, nga sila nakadawat na sa ilang balus.” (Cebuano)
<ul><li>- There is nothing wrong with praying in the synagogue or standing as this was common. What Jesus rebuked here is the desire to be noticed. Prayer should be focused on God not self </li></ul><ul><li>The street corners was also a normal place to pray because the Jews would stop anywhere when it is time to pray, however the word for street here is “plateia” which refers to a wide major street as compared to the word for street in verse 2 “rhume” which refers to a narrow street. This shows that the Pharisees choose the wide major streets to draw attention to their being being religious. </li></ul><ul><li>The reward of the hypocrites is only the notice they get from men. Hypocritical prayer doesn’t get any reward from God. </li></ul>
Faults of Jewish prayer life Although the Jews were a praying people, Jesus pointed out 5 faults they have committed: 1.) Their prayers became ritualistic – The Jews had to recite the Shema, and the Shemoneh ‘esray every morning and night and at 9 a.m., 12 p.m. and 3 p..m a.) They had developed required prayers – The Shemoneh ‘esray’s intention was to integrate prayer into the life of the Jews but since they required it, most Jews failed to see the real purpose of the prayer
b.) The practice of limiting prayer to certain times and occasions – Prayer was offered because it had to be offered and was not genuine anymore 2.) They started to esteem long prayers – The Jews had this wrong belief that the longer the prayer, the more effective it is. Jesus rebuked this practice in Mark 12:40. 3.) They made meaningless repetitions after the pagans – They approached God the same way the pagans did
B.) The audience of genuine, sincere prayer “ 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.” – Mathew 6:6 “ Apan ikaw, sa magaampo ka, sumulod ka sa imong lawak ug takpi ang pultahan ug mag-ampo ka sa imong Amahan nga anaa sa tago; ug ang imong Amahan nga nagatan-aw sa tago magabalus kanimo. .” (Cebuano)
“ . . . But thou, when thou prayest . . . ” – Jesus here did not prescribe a time, place or occasion of prayer “ . . .enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door . . . “ – Closet “tameion” or inner room. Could refer to any sort of small room or even storage closet. The idea is to go to the most private place in contrast to the practices of the hypocrites. Jesus is not saying we should literally enter a closet every time we pray. “ . . . pray to thy Father which is in secret. . . “ – This does not mean that God is not present when we pray in public. Jesus point here is to shut yourself off completely and concentrate on the presence of God. We also have this confidence that we can pour out our hearts secretly before God without worrying if others might know. “ . . . and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. . . “ – God will bless those who come to him in utmost sincerity because what is important to him is not our words but the outpouring of our hearts.
II – The Content of Prayer “ But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.” – Mathew 6:7 "Ug sa inyong pag-ampo, ayaw kamo pagyamyam sa mga pamulongpulong nga pasublisubli nga walay kapuslanan, ingon sa ginahimo sa mga Gentil; kay maoy ilang pagdahum nga pagadunggon gayud sila tungod sa ilang daghang sulti.” (Cebuano)
A.) False content – Meaningless repetitions “ . . . But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do . . . ” Vain repitition (Battalogeo) refers to idle, thoughtless chatter. ( 1 Kings 18:26 to 29) Jesus always wanted prayer to be sincere and coming from the heart. What Jesus is condenming here is the prayer for the sake of compliance and not a sincere communion with God. “ . . . for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking . . . “ - The Jews picked up the practice from the Gentiles who believed that the more you said in prayer the more God will hear you. - It is not honest, properly motivated repetition of needs or praise before God that is wrong, but the mindless, indifferent recital of spiritual sounding prayers or magical formulas over and over. Thoughtless prayer is as offensive to God as heartless prayer.
B.) True Content – Sincere request “ Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” – Mathew 6:8 “ Ayaw kamo panig-ingon kanila, kay ang inyong Amahan nasayud na sa inyong mga gikinahanglan bisan gani sa wala pa kamo makapangayo kaniya” (Cebuano)
God does not need to be badgered, pushed or force. The purpose of prayer is not to inform or persuade God but to come before him sincerely, purposely, consciously and devotedly Prayer is sharing the needs, burdens and hunger of our hearts before our heavenly Father who already knows what we need but who wants us to ask him because he wants to hear us and commune with us because he loves us so much. Prayer is giving God the opportunity to manifest his power, love and providence