Monday, October 8, 2012

How I Know You Should Pray In Secret

I've actually seen people being persecuted for refusing to pray out loud. It was argued that if others don't hear what you say, then that must mean you're against prayer, that you don't pray at all, and therefore that you're unspiritual. It was said that if you don't pray out loud, then you're failing to teach your children how to pray, and the importance of prayer. 

But is that what the Bible teaches? On the contrary:

1. Jesus Told Us To Pray In Secret

Matthew 6:1, 5-6 NIV
(1) "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.
(5) "And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.
(6) But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Is that not straightforward proof Jesus wants us to pray in secret, rather than in front of an audience? Where is the verse of Scripture that commands us to pray out loud, so others can make sure we are being "spiritual"? On the contrary. It is the hypocrites Jesus rebukes for making sure they pray where everyone can hear them. The kind of prayer the Father rewards is made in secret.

2. Long Public Prayer May Be An Attempt To Mask Sin

Mark 12:38-40 NIV
(38)  As he taught, Jesus said, "Watch out for the teachers of the law. They like to walk around in flowing robes and be greeted in the marketplaces,
(39)  and have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets.
(40)  They devour widows' houses and for a show make lengthy prayers. Such men will be punished most severely."

Apparently the Scribes and Pharisees thought people would think they are spiritual, if they made long prayers in public. In reality, it was just an attempt to hide their sin and lack of spirituality to get glory from men.

3. The Disciples Had To Ask Jesus How To Pray

Luke 11:1 NIV
(1) One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, "Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples."

If Jesus was in the habit of praying out loud, why would they have to ask Him how to pray? Would they not have already heard Him praying many times, and have known the kind of things He said?

4. Jesus Told His Disciples How To Pray

Luke 11:2 NIV
(2) He said to them, "When you pray, say: "'Father, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come.
Jesus didn't pray to show His disciples how to pray. He told them the kind of things they should say. It cannot be argued that unless one prays out loud in front of others, he cannot teach them to pray. 

5. Jesus Went Off A "Little Farther" To Pray "With" His Disciples

Matthew 26:36-41 NIV
(36) Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, "Sit here while I go over there and pray."
(37) He took Peter and the two sons of Zebedee along with him, and he began to be sorrowful and troubled.
(38) Then he said to them, "My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me."
(39) Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, "My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will."
(40) Then he returned to his disciples and found them sleeping. "Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour?" he asked Peter.
(41) "Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."

Jesus asked the disciples to keep watch "with" Him in prayer, even though He went off a "little farther" from where they were before He prayed. This proves that praying "with" someone means asking for the same things, not to make sure they can hear what you say. This can be done, as Jesus did, by simply telling others what to pray for.

6. Jesus Prayed Brief In Public

(Matthew 14:19 NIV) And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people.

When Jesus was alone, He prayed all night. In public, He apparently did little more than give thanks for the food they were about to eat. Other than the temple dedication by Solomon (2 Chronicles 6 - 7), there's little evidence that believers in the Bible were in the habit of praying, out loud, in public.

7. Spiritual People Pray Continually

(1 Thessalonians 5:17 NIV) pray continually;

"Pray" is in the present tense, and means to keep on praying. The word "continually" was used in Greek to describe a hacking cough. In our fellowship with God, we are supposed to stay in constant touch. Why, for example, would someone who talks to God regularly, have to make long-winded prayers at the dinner table or before a church offering, to thank God for things like rain that fell three days ago? If the person were really spiritual, he would have already prayed about those things as they occurred.

8. The Holy Spirit Revealed Jesus' Words In Prayer

John 17 records Jesus' prayer to the Father.  It has been argued if the disciples knew what He said, then He must have prayed out loud in their hearing. This explanation. however, overlooks the role of the Holy Spirit in revealing truth. 

How, for example, would Moses have known what happened in the Garden of Eden? Genesis tells us things God said when He made man, and the conversations between Adam, Eve, Satan, and many others, before Moses was even born. Thus, knowing what was said does not necessitate that the Bible writers actually heard it with their own ears. The Holy Spirit revealed truth to men, and carried them along to write God's word:

2 Peter 1:21 NIV
(21)  For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

John 16:13-15 NIV
(13)  But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.
(14)  He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you.
(15)  All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.

Jesus predicted the Holy Spirit would come and reveal ll truth to His disciples, especially the truth about Him and from Him. The fact we know what Jesus prayed no more necessitates He prayed out loud in front of the disciples, than knowing what God said to Adam and Eve means Moses was there listening to them when it happened. The Holy Spirit revealed what Jesus said to the disciples.

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