The Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:5-8 – Part 1

In Matthew 6:5-8, the Lord gives the second admonishment to His disciples and, this time, regarding prayer. Earlier in the chapter, in Matthew 6:1, Jesus has already warned His followers to take heed not to do like those hypocrites when they do charitable deeds.

In the previous Bible Study, we have learned that righteousness is the essence of the Christian life, especially when giving, praying and fasting. Also, we have discovered the four principles of the righteous life of the giver.

And today, we will find out about prayer. Please, do not judge me, but I looked into Wikipedia to see what it says about prayer. And to my surprise, Wikipedia defines prayer as an invocation or act that seeks to activate a rapport with an object of worship through deliberate communication.

Bible Study

In today’s Bible Study, we continue The Sermon on the Mount, and we are going to study the passage from Matthew 6:5-8 about The Lord’s Prayer – Part 1. Please, check the previous studies on this topic:

  1. The Beatitudes – Jesus’ guidelines for Believers
  2. The Similitudes of Beatitudes
  3. Jesus Christ Fulfills the Law
  4. Angry Enough to Murder
  5. Lustful Mind is Corrupted Heart
  6. Divorce – Matthew 5:31-32
  7. Vows, Oaths And Foreswearing – Matthew 5:33-37
  8. Vengeance And Love – Matthew 5:38-48
  9. Giving of Alms – Matthew 6:1-4

What is Prayer

And again, the focus theme here is holiness or the conduct of the religious life. By discussing different pious aspects of a worshipper’s life, the Lord Jesus lays out a pattern of sin with its fatal culmination.

Sin has not started in the garden of Eden. It originated in the heart of the perfect in his creation angelic being, Lucifer, while being in the presence of God’s glory. To be more specific, pride nourished by self-love is the germ of all sins.

It may sound paradoxical, but even though sin separates us from God, at the same time, it brings us into the presence of His glory. Let me explain. If you love sin, you cannot love God (Matthew 6:24 and Luke 16:13). But if you hate sin, you fear the Lord God, seek His help and guidance (Proverbs 8:13).

Of course, prayer is not the only way to communicate with God. You may listen to what God says to you through His Word, the Bible. But prayer is when you actually can talk to God. So, can a prayer be wrong? Yes, it can and that is exactly what the Lord Jesus talking about in this passage.

False Prayer and True Prayer

The best way to deal with the teachings of the Lord Jesus about the prayer is to divide it into two sections. Definitely, there are two ways to pray: the false way to pray and the true way to pray.

The False Prayer

In his book Studies In The Sermon On The Mount, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones noted two problems that make a prayer a false one. He said: the first is that my interest (if I am like the Pharisee) is in myself as the one who is praying. The second is that I feel that the efficacy of my prayer depends upon my much praying or my particular manner of prayer.

Let us look at these two problems about false prayer one after another.

1. Praying to be seen

Jesus said, do not be like hypocrites for they love to stand in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men (Matthew 6:5).

So, you may ask, what is wrong with praying in synagogues and on the streets? And I would say, nothing. Moreover, I myself am guilty of praying while driving, before eating in restaurants, before meeting with clients and even while at work. I bet you do the same.

But, I beg you, do not let your hands off the steering wheel during your prayer while you driving on a highway, and by no means do not close your eye 😉

Anyhow, the main issue with problem number one is the audience. When I feel like praying at work, I do not make it seen of my co-workers. Prayer is an act of worship and an intimate relationship with God in a sense. So, why would I even want it to be seen, right?

Moreover, acting like those hypocrites, bringing attention to yourself is nothing else but self-adoration. Praying to God with a self-centric motive does not bring glory to God but woe to such worshippers.

And again, people who pray so diligently for the sake of being seen by others have their rewards (Matthew 6:5). These religious actors may be very favourable among the people but, their awards, as Jesus explains further, are treasured on earth (Matthew 6:19), and therefore are perishable.

2. Praying to be heard

In Matthew 6:7, the Lord Jesus keeps on teaching about how not to pray. He charged His disciples saying, when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.

This is the second problem that identifies a false prayer. The King James Bible translates it as vain repetitions. These are the meaningless mumblings, empty words for the sake of being heard.

And I can tell you that the people who pray in such a manner know no God and worship Him not. I was one of such people, and my prayers were like as the heathen do, mumbling over and over the same mantra.

It would be appropriate to mention the story from 1 Kings 18 when Elijah defeated the false god Baal. The prophets of King Ahab were calling upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, saying, “O Baal, answer us!” But there was no voice, and no one answered (1 Kings 18:23-27).

And when it was Elijah’s turn to prove that God is the Lord, he prayed a beautiful prayer of a humble servant to the Almighty God, who is Lord of all (1 Kings 18:36-38).

Evidently, the secret of Elijah’s success is simple. First, he prayed to a true God. Second, in his prayer, Elijah glorified the name of the Lord God. And last but not least, Elijah was praying according to God’s will.

The True Prayer

All things considered, we can conclude Part 1 of today’s Bible study about the Lord’s Prayer by reading and understanding the words of our Lord Jesus in Matthew 6:6 and 8.

First, keep your personal relationship with the Father behind the closed doors of your soul. Thus, Your prayers to God are your secret and could be known unto God only. And such a religious lifestyle requires some discernment and, moreover, an attitude of a humble and obedient servant.

I think the best example of that would be a relationship between a husband and a wife. They do not shun each other in public but also do not brag about their intimate life. Also, they do seek to spend as much time together as possible, committing themselves entirely into a relationship.

The matter of corporate worship and prayer is a different topic and has to be studying separately. God willing, one day I will make a study about that too.

Second, the Lord Jesus clearly commanded, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do. They used a long list of the names of their gods in their prayers, hoping that those little gods can help them. Just like the prophets of King Ahab from the first book of Kings in chapter 18.

Jesus is not necessarily condemning the long prayers but meaningless verbiage in praying. Moreover, in Matthew 6:8, the Lord pointed out that your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

To be continued . . .

And next time, we will look at the Lord’s Prayer – Matthew 6:9-13 – Part 2. Particularly, we will learn what is true prayer according to the Master and how He wants us to pray.

If you have not yet accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, why not now!? Please, do not wait until it is too late! Embrace God’s Grace, Mercy and Love now – Accept Jesus Now!

Study Materials Used:

  1. The Henry Morris Study Bible – KJV
  2. The Matthew Henry Study Bible – KJV
  3. The MacArthur Study Bible – ESV
  4. ESV Study Bible
  5. Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible KJV
  6. The Complete Bible Commentary – George Williams
  7. The Moody Bible Commentary – a one-volume commentary
  8. Studies in the Sermon on the Mount by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones
  9. NASB Zondervan Study Bible

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