Making It Count

public prayerAnd when you pray, don’t be like performing actors who love to pray in assemblies and stand on street corners so that people can see them.  In all honesty, I say to you, that is their payment.–Matthew 6:5

Jesus: Tell me. What’s up with those people who want to pray in schools and sporting events?  It’s strange that they want to pray publicly.

Me: I can’t speak for all of your followers but I think people enjoy praying together.

Jesus: There has to be something else to it because that’s not praying. I’m kind of an expert on prayer. That is not prayer.

Me: What do you mean that’s not praying?  Of course, it’s praying. It is people talking to God, just like you taught us to do.

Jesus: I never taught you to pray like that.  In fact, I told you, if you want to follow me, not to pray publicly like that.  So this whole concept of praying publicly is the exact opposite of what I asked you to do.

Me: But we pray in worship services.

Jesus: Are you trying to suggest that a high school graduation is a worship service?  Is a session of Congress a worship service?

Me: Of course not, but people want to pray as a way to center themselves, as a way to think of God first.

Jesus: I disagree. The real reason people want to pray in public has nothing to do with their relationship with our Father.  It has to do with their relationship with themselves.

Me: What do you mean?

Jesus: These are not even prayers. They are performances. The whole thing is a pretend conversation with God. And like any good enactment, the goal is to be heard. People pray publicly so that others can hear them.

Me: Sure.

Jesus: Pray so that God can hear you, not everyone else.


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