The Lord’s Prayer may be one of the most famous prayers in the world. The vast majority of Christians—from Catholic to Charismatic—say it regularly. It’s something we can all agree on, isn’t it?
But what if the vast majority have managed to get it wrong?
Right before Jesus gave us that model prayer, He emphasized how not to pray:
And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words (Matt 6:5-7).
First, don’t pray to be seen in church (in this passage, the synagogue).
Second, don’t pray to be seen in public.
Third, don’t endlessly repeat your prayers.
Fourth, don’t use many words.
Now, I ask you, is that how most Christians pray? Or do they do the exact opposite of what Jesus commands? For example, how many Christians have been instructed to say the same prayer over and over and over again, dozens, hundreds, or even thousands of times a day, as a discipline to develop their spiritual life? How many do big showy prayers in public? Is that what Jesus wants?
The positive lesson here is you should pray out of the right motives. Jesus did not tolerate hypocrisy. If you’re praying to impress people, then don’t expect to hear from God. To guard against praying out of the wrong motives, make sure that you pray secretly, succinctly, and simply.