The Savior’s Sermon (Part 2)
And 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. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.Matthew 6:7–8
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Do you ever feel insecure about praying in front of others? Have thoughts come to mind, such as “I hope nobody asks me to say the prayer; I can’t pray like they can,” or “I can’t pray out loud; I never know what to say?” There’s good news for you; The Lord does not care how eloquent you are. In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus explains that God is not concerned with fancy speech, and He is certainly not impressed by showy public displays of prayer to Him.
Your prayers, whether in public or in secret, do not need to be articulate or extensive. In fact, Jesus teaches us to “not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him” (Matthew 6:7–8). The Father is only concerned that you come to Him in prayer.
Our heavenly Father knows all of our wants and needs. He knows the desires of our hearts, and He sees our struggles and our pain. Even though God knows all of these things and more, He wants us to pray. God’s love is so great for us that He knows what we need and still desires that we come to Him, simply and humbly. He wants us to bring our praise, requests, and worries to Him.
You may feel that praying is difficult because you don’t know what to say, and that’s very common. It may help for you to think about how you speak to your loved ones. You don’t worry about what to say to your siblings or to your spouse because it just comes naturally. In the same way, you know and love God, and He definitely knows and loves you completely. You can pray to Him knowing that God loves you and knows your needs.
Now, although the Lord does desire us to pray sincerely to Him, He does not condemn repeating prayers, such as praying the psalms or Luther’s morning or evening prayers. These things can be very helpful to our prayer lives as we learn what to pray for. The greatest prayer to pray is the one that is taught by our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 6, the Lord’s Prayer. This prayer teaches us how to pray and should be prayed thoughtfully and often. In the coming weeks, we will explore the Lord’s Prayer more deeply. For now, pray knowing that “The Lord is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth” (Psalm 145:18).
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