Grow Through The Gospels: Matthew 6

Pastor Ed Young - Lead Pastor of Fellowship Church
Ed Young

June 8, 2024

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Grow Through The Gospels: Matthew 6

Read: Matthew 6

Matthew 6: 5-7 “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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.”

Think

Bill Moyers was on President Lyndon Johnson’s staff. One day, he was asked to say the blessing over a meal in the White House. As he quietly prayed to the Lord, he was interrupted by President Johnson who said, Speak up Bill, I can’t hear what you are saying.” Bill Moyers replied, “I wasn’t speaking to you, Mr. President.”

When Jesus taught about prayer, he really zeroed in on the difference between prayers meant to be seen and those that genuinely seek connection with God. He pointed out that some people pray in a way that’s more about showing off their spirituality than actually talking to God. Then there's the kind of prayer that’s all about deep, personal interaction with the Father. Most of us probably fall somewhere in between, depending on the day or the state of our hearts. And it’s tough to judge just by looking—what might seem showy could be someone’s way of expressing their faith, while quiet prayers might not tell the whole story either.

Jesus highlighted a few telltale signs that our prayers might be more about performance than faith. Do you find yourself switching to a "prayer voice" or piling on fancy words? While these things aren’t necessarily bad, they can sometimes distract us from the real purpose of prayer. And what about when prayers start sounding like a wish list for our plans, or even like we’re sharing gossip? Jesus suggested a radical idea: find a quiet place where it’s just you and God, close the door, and pray there. This isn’t about hiding, but creating a space to be genuine and honest without worrying about what others think.

In this private space, your prayer life can truly flourish. Here, it’s okay to speak to God in whatever voice feels natural, to use heartfelt words, and to share your deepest concerns—even if that means praying about personal desires or for people in your life. It's about genuine dialogue where God can work on your heart and guide you—this kind of prayer shifts from being a public display to a private conversation with real depth.

This approach doesn’t just apply when you're alone; it can permeate every aspect of your life. This is what Paul meant by "pray without ceasing." When your private prayers are consistent with your public ones, your faith becomes authentic and integrated. The true reward of this kind of prayer is not recognition but transformation—it directs our hearts, brings clarity, strengthens our spirit, builds our faith, and makes us more aware of God’s presence. Remember, the God who sees what is done in secret will reward you openly. These rewards aren't about applause but about growing closer to God, which makes a prayerful life so powerful and transformative.

Apply

Try doing a “prayer audit.” Speak to God in your natural voice, express your true feelings, and discuss your real concerns. Write down and journal your thoughts and your prayers, as you strengthen your relationship with God. Talk to him.

Pray

God, I want a deeper relationship with you. Help me remove anything that keeps me away from you. Give me the courage to be honest when I talk to you. Remind me that you are my Father, my Creator, who knows me better than I know myself. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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