How not to pray
Holy Trinity Huddersfield
27th January 2013
The reading in church this morning was Matthew 5:5-13. Here it is from the NRSV:
‘And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But whenever 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.
‘When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
‘Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
Unlike many other services which concentrate on what jesus taught in his prayer, we heard about what prayer isn’t:
It isn’t about showing off.
And it isn’t about big words, technical words or jargon.
And it isn’t about how long the prayer goes on for.
God isn’t impressed by things like these, though we’ve all seen them done. Some of us have done them: I have.
Instead we can approach God in private, for instance in our bedrooms, and we can talk to him like a child can talk to his dad. Most people find talking to their parents easy and natural. Prayer isn’t something difficult, it’s easy.
As easy as a child talking to a parent.