The Tabernacle Scroll

Issue 18

"Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven "(Matt. 6:1).

In the sixth chapter of Matthew we see Jesus talking about three acts of righteousness – giving to the needy, praying and fasting. (Verses 1-18). They were considered ‘righteous’ because, for those seeking righteousness by observance of the Law, they were virtuous and law-abiding acts. For us as Christians, none of these acts are a means of gaining a right standing with God, which only comes by faith in Christ. Nevertheless they still remain righteous acts, proceeding out of our new relationship with Christ. The point that Jesus was making then is still valid for us today; it is not the act itself, but the motivation behind it that counts.

It is interesting that in this chapter only 3 verses each are devoted to ‘giving’ and ‘fasting’, whilst 11 verses are devoted to ‘prayer’. Since prayer is directed to God, how we pray determines whether our prayers are really ‘righteous’ prayers; in other words, whether they find favour with God and attract his blessing. The Bible says: “the prayers of a righteous man availeth much”.

So how should we pray? Jesus warned against hypocritical prayers – these are nice sounding prayers that make one feel good because others have been listening. This sort of prayer achieves nothing. But then he warned against babbling prayers. They are the type in which we talk for the sake of talking. This type of prayer develops very easily into an ‘information’ prayer. When it involves others it is often gossip in disguise. Through it we alert everybody to the things that are happening in the life of the one being prayed for. It is unrighteous prayer; in short, it is really sin!

We need to be particularly guarded against babbling prayer when we are praying with others and for others. It demeans the one seeking prayer, especially when done publicly (i.e., made open knowledge). Our prayers should bless, edify and build up. We should never take advantage of the vulnerability of the one seeking prayer. Personal problems should be dealt with in a private manner (i.e., the seeker, the assistant and, of course, God); they should never be divulged publicly by the one ministering. The way in which certain problems are addressed in prayer comes through godly instruction and much practice!

If you have prayed this way in the past, then repent of it and change the way you pray in the future. It’s okay to make mistakes; but we must learn from them and move on.

            Devotional                                                                                                                            Preach The Word The Word with Pastor Joseph Rodrigues