And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father Who is in the secret place; and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
The Lord's Prayer totals 69 words. You can say it in 25 seconds, and this was His longest public prayer. Before Christ raised Lazarus from the dead, He proclaimed these extraordinary Words:
' 'Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.' Now when He had said these things, He cried with a loud Voice, 'Lazarus, come forth!' ' (John 11:41-42).
At that moment, Jesus, our Defender, announced an incredible miracle which would become conclusive evidence in a trial His dear friends had endured.* Some who watched reached a wonderful verdict: Innocent! Jesus was found innocent. He wasn't a con man. He was God's Son.
Soon, all of His believers (then and now) would be found innocent, too (by His Blood).
Yet public prayer was not His habit. 'Jesus Himself would often slip away to the wilderness and pray' (Luke 5:16). Many Verses verify His practice.**
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Praying publicly may have its role, but perhaps not such a starring role. Because when prayers get long-winded, our attention span gets short-shifted. Therein, power and torque are missing. Minds will wander while hearts disengage.
Actors, models and talent for Christ: Hollywood won't book half-heartedness. Much less our Lord: 'A consuming Fire, a jealous God' (Deuteronomy 4:24), Who loves us fiercely.
Prayers in private are raw and real, as was our Leader upon the Cross. So hang out with Him and ponder it. Get straight with Him and pour it all out: your hopes, regrets and even complaints. Whatever you're feeling, He'll take it.
Next, you'll notice your life is changing. Your friends and fans will notice it, too.
To Be Continued...
* Lazarus, Martha and Mary were Christ's dear friends. Soon, His disciples would endure hard trials, too. In fact, Jesus said every one of His followers would suffer. But through Him, we will pass through them to victory--even the trial of death.
** Short referenced article: Bible Verses on Jesus' Solitude and Silence, http://www.soulshepherding.org/2013/02/jesus-solitude-and-silence/
** What We Get Wrong About Public Prayer, Relevant Magazine: http://www.relevantmagazine.com/god/practical-faith/what-we-get-wrong-about-public-prayer
P.S. To read the other devotions in this series, please see the Do-Gooders series.