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The second act of righteousness Jesus lists is praying. This naturally falls into place as SECRET #25: The follower of Jesus has a private focus when praying. Here’s how Jesus puts it: “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.” (Matthew 6:5-8)
Giving was the first righteousness and now the 2nd righteous act is PRAYING. Praying, just as giving, is a righteous act meant to be between you and God. The Pharisees loved to make a show out of it. FIRST-They love to stand and pray in the synagogues. This is interesting. Isn’t it OK to stand and pray in the synagogue (church)? Not when it is a SHOW for someone else. I had to ask one of our pastors not to pray inside the church facility, because it became such a spectacle.
SECOND-They love to stand and pray on the street corners so that they may be seen. To me, this is even more offensive! And note that those who pray in this way have already received their reward in full and its not from God. Some believe that if you pray out in the streets or other public arenas that it becomes a wonderful testimony to the non-believers. Jesus is against this kind of prayer that is prayed as a public testimony. Prayer is a righteous act before God. It’s the principle of private focus!
THIRD-They love to pray using meaningless repetition and many words, believing that they will be heard better by God. Literally, Jesus says don’t get into repeating meaningless phrases. Don’t say “bata bata bata bata” over and over thinking this will be pleasing to God. Do you know anyone who prays in one or more of these three forbidden ways? Jesus is not impressed!
Jesus teaches, when you pray. Go into your inner room. Find a spot where you heard from God before, privately and away from all people and distractions, and close the door, talking only to your Father who is in secret. Instead of using many meaningless words, try spending half of your time set aside for listening. Why? Because your Father knows what you need before you even ask.
SECRET #25 is: The follower of Jesus has a private focus when praying. Essentially this principle has its focus on who your audience is. The principle of private focus is revolutionary, because you begin to live your life before an audience alright-an audience of one-the Lord, himself.