A Question For You
I’ve sent this question out to a few email lists I’m on, and I’d also like to hear from any of you if you care to comment. My question is:
What does Jesus mean when he forbids praying “to be seen by men”?
Does he mean that we should not pray at restaurants or other public places before a meal? Does he mean we shouldn’t hold prayer rallies on the capitol building steps where we’re sure to end up on the 5 o’clock news? Does he mean that we shouldn’t post “prayers” on our blogs for the world to see? How about praying in front of abortion clinics? Or televising worship services? Why or why not?
Or is Jesus’ prohibition merely a matter of intentions? e.g. ‘Don’t pray with the idea of getting everybody to look at you and thinking you’re all holy.’ And as long as you mean well, “pray without ceasing”…
Are there specific/concrete ways that one might actually ignore Jesus’ teaching here today? Or would one have to dress up like a 1st century pharisee and set up shop on a street corner in Manhattan? At what point would you/do you cry foul?
When Jesus says “go into your room and shut your door” is he talking about prayer in a general sense (speaking to God) or is he only referring to ‘common prayer’ or corporate worship? What about the Old Testament examples of prayer/worship in public battle scenes (e.g. Jericho or Jehoshaphat in 2 Chr. 20)?
I would appreciate any thoughts or feedback you might have.