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Matthew 6:5-8

Worshiping Privately

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

What is the pinnacle of worship? Musicians and worship leaders might tend to think that the climax of worship is the magnificent singing of praises to God by a large and spirit filled congregation. Pastors might think that it is the climax of their sermon. Unfortunately, many church goers believe that the pinnacle of worship occurs when they arrive at the church.

Isn't the real climax of worship found in what happens after the service? The peak of our spiritual lives is found in those moments when we get together with God privately. It is only there, in the privacy of our homes, when we have no one to impress, that we can truly and freely worship our God.

Every true recipient of God's grace prays. Jesus' warning to them is that they should guard against polluting their prayer with the attitudes of the hypocrites. Worship that is defiled by self-centered attitudes is self-worship. It is dangerous worship.

Hypocrites love to pray in public where people can see them and recognize their righteousness. Jesus mentioned those that prayed in the synagogue and in the corners of the broad streets. The synagogue was an appropriate place for prayer when it was done corporately, but it was a place to worship God not man. Men who seek recognition for their religiosity have their only reward in that recognition.

Private, personal prayer should be done in the prayer closet with the door shut, alone with God. Our relationship with God is established and maintained in private prayer. He is the only one who needs to recognize that we love Him and want to spend time with Him. In private, we are focused on Him, we worship Him, and self is laid aside.

Jesus also mentioned the vain repetitions of the heathen. Idolaters mumbled the same meaningless phrases over and over again as if this would influence their gods to answer their prayers. It is very dangerous for us to think that we can manipulate God like that. There are no magical incantations that can be used to control Him. Merely memorizing a prayer and mechanically repeating it will not get God's attention.

God does not respond to us. We respond to Him. Jesus said that He already knows what our needs are before we pray. He already knows how and when He will answer our prayers. The purpose of prayer is worship, and the purpose of worship is to bring glory to God. By praying, we acknowledge our dependence on Him, or love for Him and our trust in Him.

When you worship this Sunday morning, will you remember that there are two desired results? First is that the body of Christ should lift Him up in praises and song and public prayers. More importantly, however, you want the public, corporate worship, to influence the hearts of everyone present, so that they will afterword come to God privately in spirit and in truth.

Before The Throne:

Be certain to spend time alone with God every day. Ask the Father to examine your heart and remove any improper motives for your prayers. Pray for those who will come to church this week, who will sing praises with you, and who will pray with you during the worship service. Pray that they will be able to turn to God privately in authentic relational worship.

For Further Study:

** when. Matt 7:7-8; Matt 9:38; Matt 21:22; Ps 5:2; Ps 55:17; Prov 15:8; Isa 55:6-7; Jer 29:12; Dan 6:10; Dan 9:4-19; Luke 18:1; John 16:24; Eph 6:18; Col 4:2-3; 1Thess 5:17; Jas 5:15-16; ** thou shalt not. Matt 23:14; Job 27:8-10; Isa 1:15; Luke 18:10-11; Luke 20:47; ** for. Matt 23:6; Mark 12:38; Luke 11:43; ** Verily. Prov 16:5; Luke 14:12-14; Jas 4:6;

(v.6) ** enter. Matt 14:23; Matt 26:36-39; Gen 32:24-29; 2Kgs 4:33; Isa 26:20; John 1:48; Acts 9:40; Acts 10:9, 30; ** pray. Ps 34:15; Isa 65:24; John 20:17; Rom 8:5; Eph 3:14;

** use. 1Kgs 18:26-29; Eccl 5:2-3, 7; Acts 19:34; ** repetitions. Matt 26:39, 42, 44; 1Kgs 8:26-54; Dan 9:18-19; ** the heathen. Matt 18:17;

(v.8 ) ** your. Ps 38:9; Ps 69:17-19; Luke 12:30; John 16:23-27; Phil 4:6;


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