“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 men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 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.”
Devout Jews back in Jesus’ day would stop and pray three times a day at 9am, noon and 3pm. If they were walking down the street and the clock struck noon…stop and pray! Three in the afternoon rolls around and they are in the synagogue…stop and pray! They looked like committed, pious men, but Jesus calls into question their true intentions. Was it to commune with the Father…or to garner the attention of men?
The word “hypocrite” was often used in the realm of theater where the Greek or Roman actors put on masks and pretended to be someone they were not. Hmmm…how often do we put on the mask of a religious person? We go to church, bible studies, and Sunday schools and those are good things, but are we just going through the motions? What about time alone with God in prayer and in His Word? How religious are we when we are at work, or in front of the television, or on the internet? Take us out of our religious settings (where we are “seen by men”) and are we the same person with the same thoughts, words and actions?
We may be able to fool our friends and neighbors with our religious activities, but we can’t fool God. He looks right into the center of your heart. Does He see a humble follower who cares more about God and others than he does himself? Perhaps a person who is willing to go and serve and sacrifice? Like King David, we must ask God to “search our hearts” and show us what’s lurking inside.