DESCRIPTION: Prayer that makes a difference is not done for public performance but individual transformation. In this lesson, Brother Sherman Cox talks about why personal private prayer is so important.
In Matthew 6:6, Jesus gives us an important principle about true, healthy, and helpful spirituality. Namely, this is something that is nurtured with alone with God.
That is not to say that all spiritual practices should be done by yourself. Hebrews 10:25 tells us to not forsake gathering together. It is impossible to commune together by yourself. Yes, community is important and indispensable. However, there is something about one on one time that helps us and the larger community.
But prayer here is something that you do not attempt to get brownie points from others. We are not struggling to find ways to demonstrate our spiritual practices to others here.
There is a time to pray….in secret.
And the Bible Says, God will see.
And reward.(Matthew 6:6)..
Yes, there are definitely times that we should and must pray openly. Whether it is in public prayer.
Or even like Daniel praying in front of the open window (Daniel 6:10) to demonstrate that he would not be deterred by wicked laws and encourage the saints who looked on.
But we can never fall into the trap of spirituality for acclaim or religious practices simply to look good.
This is between you and God.
Mathew 6:1 tells us to “Beware of practicing our righteousness to be seen by others.” Your practice of righteousness is not to be seen by others…
When we do things to be seen by others we have certain problems show up.
Sometimes when we do things to be seen, we maximize certain issues and we minimize other issues.
We maximize the good we do, and we minimize the evil that we do. We thus tell those who are looking on that we are good Christians who do right, and hardly do evil.
This is probably a lie…
But more than that, what does it say to the struggling one? What does it say to the one who fights with pornography and can’t get out of its grip even though it destroys his family?
What does it say to the sick one who questions whether God is even there because God may have shown up for you, but where was God when that one needed help?
What does it say to those who are in the depths of despair and are just about to give up?
It tells them that you are perfect Christian who can’t help them get out of the real world struggles they have.
When we do our spirituality to be seen by others, we tell the lie that we are doing well when in reality, like everybody else, we are struggling…
And this can make others think that when they struggle they don’t have allies in struggle. Instead they have a judge. OR perhaps someone who is sympathetic but detached rather than empathetic and totally understanding…
Another problem that shows up when we practice our religion to be seen by others is that we have our eyes on the wrong things.
We are looking for activities to promote the spirituality we feel we have. We end up looking like the religious one who can’t be bothered with real world things. We totally separate ourselves from those in the world.
We can’t be real. We can’t talk about the sports game or the TV show.
And we can’t do these things because we are holding on to the facade that our spirituality is the only thing we can deal and talk about.
And as we lie…we become the lie.
And maybe we get to the point where we can no longer even see our need. We can no longer see that our righteousness is as filthy rags (Isaiah 64:6), because we have lied to ourselves so much that we think that we are perfect just as we are.
In short, when we do things to be seen by others we deprive others of an ally in struggle and we deprive ourselves of the…and we deprive God of the ability to go deep into us and cleanse those places we hide from everybody.
In contrast. go into your closet and say, “Lord show me the worst of my case.”
You don’t want to have that prayer in public…go in the closet…and let God tell you….and help you…
So that when you finally do get to the point of having some spiritual practices in public..it will not be to be seen, but it will spring forth from the spirituality that was fostered…
in the dark….
alone with God.
Lord help me to have the courage to not hide who I am from either you….or myself…and help me to show the world a Struggling but being changed Christian rather than a cheap copy of what I think Christianity should be…