Prayer, one of the cornerstones in a Christian Church, but how much do we learn from Jesus and how much is man made? By the time this entire study is done, we will surely know, but that could be awhile. In the meantime, let’s take a look at this next scripture.
5 “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
Let’s come to a common understanding as to what ‘pray’ means. Strong’s says:
προσεύχομαι – proseuchomai – pros-yoo’-khom-ahee – From G4314 and G2172; to pray to God, that is, supplicate, worship: – pray (X earnestly, for), make prayer. G2171=Middle voice of a primary verb; to wish; by implication to pray to God: – pray, will, wish.
I’m not sure this definition fits exactly with what people tend to think of when they think of prayer. The “hypocrites” would pray standing so they could be seen. It isn’t presumed to mean we can not pray while standing. It is to mean we should pray to be heard or seen in a manner which say to everyone, “Hey, look at me I am a good Christian because I am praying.”
6 But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Since Jesus prayed in the garden, it doesn’t seem this means the only place you can pray is in a room where you can close the door. It seems to be directed more toward an unseen place. Again, not to be showy, and not to do it so other’s will give you accolades for praying. By doing prayer this way, God will see and reward.
7 And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Babbling. Babbling? Brooks babble, babies babble, what does an adult look like when babbling?
Babbling = βαττολογέω – battologeō – bat-tol-og-eh’-o – From Βάττος Battos (a proverbial stammerer) and G3056; to stutter, that is, (by implication) to prate tediously: – use vain repetitions. (Strong)
1) to stammer 2) to repeat the same things over and over, to use many idle words, to babble, prate. Some suppose the word derived from Battus, a king of Cyrene, who is said to have stuttered; others from Battus, an author of tedious and wordy poems. (Thayer)
A word formed in imitation of the sound, battalogein: properly, to stammer; then to babble or prate, to repeat the same formula many times, as the worshippers of Baal and of Diana of Ephesus (1Ki_18:26; Act_19:34) and the Romanists with their paternosters and aves. (Vincents Word Studies)
“The Pagans thought that by endless repetitions and many words they would inform their gods as to their needs and weary them (‘fatigare deos’) into granting their requests” (Bruce).
We don’t need to tell God all the who, what, when, why, and how of a situation, He already knows, even before we ask. Prayer is about us acknowledging our trust in, reliance on, and thankfulness for God.
So from this we can see Jesus is telling us not to stammer, stutter, talk foolishly or tediously about something (prate), useless repetitions (vain), nor repeat the same things over and over.
Surprised by this at all? There are many churches who might be. But we are going to be concerned with what other’s do, we are going to be concerned with what we, ourselves do.
This brings us to the Lord’s Prayer, we’ll cover it in the next blog. For now, let’s just sit with what Jesus said about prayer:
- Don’t pray to draw attention to yourself.
- Do it privately, not to be showy, and not to do it so other’s will give you accolades for praying.
- Do not stammer, stutter, talk foolishly or tediously about something (prate), useless repetitions (vain), nor repeat the same things over and over.
- We don’t need to tell God all the who, what, when, why, and how of a situation, He already knows, even before we ask.