Prayer Focus: Don’t Be a Hypocrite

God desires prayers that focus on him, not on others.

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love  to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.” (Matthew 6:5 ESV)

Who is your audience?

This is a great question in marketing. But it’s a better question in praying.

In the Sermon on the Mount, this question is implied with a prohibition from Jesus. He said, don’t pray in public with a desire to be seen by others. He did not forbid all public prayers. Rather, he prohibited prayers motivated by a selfish desire to enhance one’s reputation in the sight of others. This is the wrong audience.

This type of prayer is hypocritical. Why? Because it presents a false picture. Externally, it seems like praise to God. But internally, it seeks the praise of men. This is playing to the crowd, not praying to the Lord.

Jesus affirmed those who pray in this way receive what they were seeking: the praise of men. Therefore, there is no need for God to give them any reward since they already obtained the goal of their prayer.

As we gather with others to pray for the global advance of the gospel, let’s be mindful that our audience is God not our prayer group.

This week, let’s pray:

“Lord, grant me the proper motivation in prayer. When I pray with a group, keep my prayers directed to you and not them. I want to pray for your glory, not my glory.”

Join the Day of Prayer for Church Planting

Join us on Pentecost (June 5, 2022) for a day of prayer focused on seeing more people come to faith in Jesus through new churches.

Bobby Hile

Bobby Hile was ABWE’s Director of Long-Term Mobilization. Prior to that, he served for 9 years as a senior pastor in Ohio and for almost 20 years with ABWE as a missionary in South Africa.