Matthew 6:5 (NIV)
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 others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.
The word hypocrite comes from ancient Greek. It literally means ‘an interpreter from underneath’, which sounds a little odd doesn’t it. It makes sense, however, if you know where the word was used – in the theatre. Here the actors wore large masks which denoted which part they were playing, the actors were interpreting their part from under their masks, and this is where the modern word begins to emerge, someone who looks like they are one thing (the actor’s part) but actually are something else (the actor). Just because someone prays out loud, says Jesus, just because they are well known for their prayers, it doesn’t mean that what they are doing is praying, or is real. No, sometimes such people can be actually putting on a show, a show that has little sense of relationship with God under it. Their reward is the admiration of others, not the ear of God. Their utterances are speeches, not prayers.
Spirit, help me to keep my prayers sincere and God focused, only worried about my Father, not others.