How Not to Pray (18 of 26) by Jonathan McLeod

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How Not to Pray (18 of 26)
Series: Kingdom Life
Jonathan McLeod
Matthew 6:5-8

Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him (v. 8).


In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus tells his followers that they are to be different. In 6:5-8, he says they are to be different in how they pray. When they pray, they are not to be like the religious hypocrites (vv. 5-6) or the pagan Gentiles (vv. 7-8).

[Read Matthew 5:5-15.]


[Tell story about some students in Bible college prayer meetings seemed to be trying to impress others with the length of their prayers.] All prayers are not created equal. There are ways we should pray, and there are ways we shouldn’t pray.


Before Jesus tells his followers how they should pray (vv. 9-13), he tells them how they should not pray. How can we avoid praying in a wrong way?

When we pray, we must always remember that we are praying to a LOVING FATHER.

We know God loves us because he “did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all” (Rom. 8:32). If an imperfect father “know[s] how to give good gifts to [their] children, how much more will [our] heavenly Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” (Matt. 7:11).


When we forget that we’re praying to a loving Father, we will pray in wrong ways. Jesus gives us two ways we should not pray.

1. Don’t pray to IMPRESS others (vv. 5-6).

Jesus declares, “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” (v. 5). They “love to…pray,” not because they love prayer or because they love God, but because they love themselves. It wasn’t their posture (“stand”) or their location (“in the synagogues and at the street corners”) that was wrong; it was their motive (“that they may be seen by others”).

Jesus says, “Truly, I ...

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