Verses for the Day – Matthew 6:7-8
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. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.

Daily Scripture ReadingPhilippians 4

Devotional Thoughts
Jesus is preparing to introduce us to the most famous lesson on prayer in the next few verses, but here He continues the thought on how to pray. We have already seen that He wants us to be different from the hypocrites. We must be separate from the world and the way it does things. We have to be genuine, and not play actors and pretenders when it comes to serving God and fellowshipping with Him. We have also seen that Jesus expects us to pray. He expects that we will spend time with Him alone.

Now He introduces another thought that hit the crowd on the mountainside right between the eyes. You see, in that day (just like today), there were those who thought that the more words they used the more likely God was to hear their prayer. As a result they would say the same thing over and over and over hoping their prayer would make it to God’s ears at least once!! What a philosophy. What a theology of prayer. Can you imagine if we believed that way? I can see it now — if it was me I would pray the same thing over and over and over and then stop — and the next prayer in succession, the one I did not say, THAT would have been the one God heard!

Jesus, beside making a point about the practice of saying the same thing over and over and over also means here that these are prayers that are offered that are relatively meaningless. They are vain. No thought is put into what is being said. As an example, finish this prayer, “Now I lay me down to sleep…” If we grew up reciting this it may be all we know. Vain repetition stunts our spiritual growth because it may be the only way we know how to talk to God. We must concentrate (verse 6) and focus when we commune with Him. We must think about what we are saying. We wouldn’t walk up to an important person and just babble a few words without any thought behind them, would we? No! We would careful plan what we would or should say. Why should we treat God any differently? The only difference should be the much higher value we place on having the blood bought opportunity to speak with our Creator and Redeemer.

Jesus is teaching us that when we pray (remember, when, not if) we should give Him and our prayers the proper attention and thought. Don’t think that the longer we pray the better we pray. Some prayers in Scripture are very short. Remember when Peter was walking on the water and took his eyes off of Jesus and was overwhelmed by the wind and waves? He cried out, “Lord, save me!” That is a short prayer. On the other hand, when we pray at length we must understand that Jesus is teaching us that we need not repeat the same thing over and over. If we did that in a conversation with a friend the friend might think we were nuts. And yet many Christians talk to God in catch phrases and pray the same prayer every time they talk to God.

When you pray, do not pray like the hypocrites. Don’t think a multitude of words means that God hears you. Don’t constantly repeat the same thing over and over. Talk with God. Listen to God. And know that when we walk with Him as His children, He hears us when we pray – even if we briefly, yet earnestly, cry out “Lord, save me!”

Jesus is teaching us how to approach His Father, and we have already learned not to pray to be seen and heard by men (fear of men), and we are not to pray with vain, useless repetitions. The repetitions, remember, were offered in the hopes that God would eventually hear the prayer at least once and then answer. But Jesus refuted that and now He will take the lesson one step further. We do not have to repeat ourselves over and over in hopes that God will hear because God is all-knowing. He knows what we need before we ever think to ask.

Some would follow that statement with a question, “Why should we ask then, if He already knows?” I’m glad you asked. Let me give you a few simple reasons we are to pray and let our requests come before God.

1. God commands us to pray. Mark 13:33; Luke 21:36; 1 Thess. 5:17

2. God expects us to pray. Luke 18:1

3. God wants us to pray. Luke 10:2

4. God is glorified when we pray. 1 Tim. 2:8; Rev. 5:8

5. God answers our prayers. Mark 11:24; 1 Peter 3:12

6. We benefit from time spent with God. Romans 8:26

7. Our prayers are an offering of worship to God. Rev. 8:3-4

8. Our relationship with God will grow when we pray. Acts 8:22-24, Phil. 4:6

9. Jesus is our example. Luke 6:12; 11:1

10. Our resistance to sin will be strengthened when we pray. Luke 22:46; 2 Cor. 13:7-9

Each one of these reasons alone is enough of a reason to pray and to pray in a manner that is pleasing to God. Remember we are talking with Him. Our Redeemer, Creator, Caretaker, Comforter, and Master. The question that remains now is what can we do to pray in a manner that is pleasing to God? I would give you an answer now but that will be tomorrow’s devotion.

In the meantime – pray. Not as the hypocrites. Follow Jesus’ example and seek Him whenever you can. Always have the communication lines open (pray without ceasing). And if prayer is a chore and a bore to you, STOP! You obviously are not spending time with God. Time with Him refreshes our spirit and renews our strength. Time with Him can never be a bore if we really know Him. As a matter of fact, if prayer is a chore and bore — REPENT OF YOUR SIN AND BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

John Stott said, “The purpose of our prayer is not to inform or persuade God, but to come before Him sincerely, purposely, consciously, and devotedly.”

Bible Reading For Further Study
Jeremiah 17:10
Proverbs 10:19; 16:27
Psalm 55:16-18; Psalm 44:20-21; 69:5; 73; 139:1-6
Isaiah 1:11-17
Daniel 9:4-19

Recommended Songs for Worship
Hymn 486 – Faith is the Victory
Hymn 488 – He Keeps Me Singing