1 And it happened that while Jesus was praying in a certain place, after He had finished, one of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, teach us to pray just as John also taught his disciples.” 2 And He said to them, “When you pray, say: ‘Father, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. 3 Give us each day our daily bread. 4 And forgive us our sins, For we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And lead us not into temptation.’” Luke 11:1-4 (LSB)
Prayer is a vital part of our Christian walk before the face of God. I have never met a mature Christian who was at peace with the consistency or depth of his or her praying. Sacred Scripture says that God commands His people to pray. I have often wondered why God wants us to pray since He knows everything already. He knows what we need already the Word says, so why should we have to pray, asking Him for what we need?…
Prayer is communication. It is also a benchmark of our Christian maturity. God uses prayer to reveal many things to us about ourselves. He also uses it to grow us in faith and line up our wills with His. Let us look at that part of our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount in which He gave us what has come to be known as The Lord’s Prayer.
5 “And 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. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 “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. 8 Therefore, do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6:5-8 (LSB)
This part of our Lord’s Sermon is a continuation of Matthew 6:1-4 in which He showed the right and wrong way for Christians to give to the needy. The wrong was done in hypocrisy, to be seen by others. He tells us to give to the needy in secret, in such a way that only God and we know it. In light of this He leads us into the right and wrong ways to pray. The word ”when” in Greek is οταν (Hotan), which is best translated as “whenever” or “as often as.” Our Lord is telling us that we are expected to pray. The words “you pray” in Greek is προσευχησθε (proseuchēsthe). It is in present tense, subjunctive mood, and active voice. This means that it is describing continuous, repeated action. Our Lord is telling us that we are to pray continually, as a way of life, as a way of walking through each day. Then our Lord tells how not to do this. We are not to be like the hypocrites. The Greek word used here for “hypocrites” is ὑποκριταί (hypokritai). This word describes an actor or a person who is a counterfeit. He or she assumes and speaks or acts under a feigned character. In other words, our Lord is describing unregenerate persons who are self-deceived. They pray in public in such a way to draw attention to themselves. We must approach prayer in a totally different way.