Matthew 6:5-8"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when 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. 7 "And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him."
Verse 5 instructs us how not to pray. We are not to pray like the hypocrites. A hypocrite is a pretender. A hypocrite is a person who pretends to be what he is not. Rather than really wanting an audience with the Lord, the hypocrite wanted an audience with the people he was seen by when he prayed. The hypocrite received his reward for his prayer from people, not from God. The hypocrite did not have his prayers answered. The hypocrites spoken of were the Jewish leaders.
Verse 7-8a instruct us how not to pray. We are not to heap up empty phrases thinking we will be heard by God because we have many words and lengthy prayers. Many empty words do not gain us a hearing by God. The Gentiles did not have answered prayers. Jesus said we are not to pray like the Gentiles.
Verse 6,8b tells us how to pray effectively. We are to seek God alone. What we pray is meant for God to hear. We are not to pray empty words, but the will of God (1 John 5:14-15). We are not to pray for what is only for our pleasure or passions. We are to pray for what God's will is, for what is needed. We pray knowing that God knows what we need even before we ask Him.
Jesus commanded us what to pray in verses 9-15. We begin to learn what to pray tomorrow. Prayer is an essential practice in every believers life. We are to make prayer a top priority just as Jesus did. How is your prayer life?