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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. (NIV)
This passage is right at the beginning of Jesus' public ministry, as recorded by Matthew, and is part of what we call "The Sermon on the Mount" and the introduction to The Lord's Prayer. In Chapter Five Jesus is teaching on the old covenant, the law, versus the new covenant, grace. He says over and over, "You have heard it said" followed by, "But I tell you."
The people had been living with the law, as given to Moses by God, for more than a thousand years and in Jesus' day the religious leaders, The Pharisees, had added so many rules to the law as to make it even more impossible for the people to keep.
Jesus said of them in Matthew 23:5-7 that, "Everything they do is for show. On their arms they wear extra wide prayer boxes with Scripture verses inside, and they wear robes with extra long tassels. And they love to sit at the head table at banquets and in the seats of honor in the synagogues. They love to receive respectful greetings as they walk in the marketplaces, and to be called 'Rabbi.'"
Instead of leading the people to God, the Pharisees used their position of influence for their own glory. They are the hypocrites He is referring to in verse five. Our prayers are to be a sweet time of communing with our Heavenly Father, not a show for others to admire our holiness. Jesus said if we make our prayers a show to garner acclaim for ourselves, we have received all that we will ever get for our efforts.
God, I want to glorify You in all I do. I the only accolade I desire is Your "well done" at the end of my days. I pray You keep me humble and to remember that I am but Your servant and honored to do Your work here on Earth. Thank You for Your blessings and thank You for allowing me to pray for others as You lead. In Jesus' name, amen.
I have always loved writing, more recently, have fallen madly in love with Jesus, and so I am happy to be able to join two things I love and to honor Him with the gift He so generously gave to me and to work to further His kingdom. His Word will not return to Him void.