Yesterday we pondered our motivations for making donations. We may donate to thrift shops to help the poor. But missionaries have stories of receiving donations of used tea bags! In Kenya we shopped at “the bend down market.” Bags of used clothes that could not be sold in the USA were sent abroad and laid out along the road with flip-flops scavenged from the beach. Sharing with the poor is not wrong but the motive behind sharing becomes the problem. God knows our hearts and so doing deeds from selfish motives while impressing others, does not impress God. God sees our hearts and secret motives and desires.
Today Jesus continues in the same vain of speaking to the secrets of our hearts. He addresses prayer.
“5 ‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.[b]
7 ‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that 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. (Matthew 6: 5-8)”
Again Jesus confronts us with the motives of our hearts that only God can see. Prayer is an outward symptom of an inner relationship. Are we hypocrites? Are our motives selfish because we want relief for ourselves for a given concern or do we genuinely care about the issue we are discussing with God. Tomorrow we will look at what is known as “The Lord’s Prayer.” Today let us ask God to help us be honest with ourselves and that he would reveal any hypocrisy in our hearts. Lord, we want our prayers to be genuine and pleasing to you! Blessings.