“Stan,” I began, “with your prayer life, do you want to be seen as a man of prayer?”
“Yes and no,” he replied.
“How can it be both?” I asked.
“It depends on who’s doing the talking, who’s calling me that; God or another person.”
“I pray,” Stan said. “I pray a lot. But it’s all between me and God. I’m pleased to offer prayers on behalf of others, but being known as a man of prayer by people on this side of eternity is not something that I consider to be necessarily a good thing. Scripture clearly teaches that I am not to pray in order to be seen by others.”
Continuing, he added, “God is the only one I want to call me a man of prayer. He is the One who defines how I am to pray, and He clearly says that prayer is to be between the two of us, me and God, not for the benefit of anyone who may happen to hear my prayers.”
“Ask me to pray for you and I will.”
“Ask me to pray in public and I will.”
“Ask me to pray so I will be seen by others as a man of prayer and you will be wasting your breath. It’s not supposed to happen, and by the grace of God it won’t!”
Bible verses to consider:
And when you pray, you are not to be as the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners, in order to be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you. Matthew 6:5-6.
Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1.
Prayer: Thank you, Father, that you want me to pray to you. Thank you that you allow me to come before you in the name of Jesus, and that you have given me the Holy Spirit who leads and guides my prayers. Please help so that my prayers are to you and to you alone, not for any other person who may hear my prayers. Please help me so that my prayers are never offered in a way that is merely to be seen or heard by other people, but they are offered to you alone. Please lead me in praying in accordance with your will so that I will have the full benefit of prayer, which is to know you ever more deeply. Thank you that I can and do bring all of these prayers before you in the name of Jesus. Amen.
Think on this: What to you is the purpose of prayer — to get things from God, to get to know Him and His will, or something different? Do you know someone you call a “person of prayer”? If so, why do you describe that person in that way? What do you see as the primary purpose of prayer?