Matthew 6:5-6 (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. 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.
Did I lie yesterday? I said that the motivation for prayer was found in having a one to one conversation with our Father, the only audience that counts, but as the passage unpacks, another motive emerges, that of a reward. Talk of reward in the Gospels always feels a little awkward – isn’t the Gospel supposed to be about grace, God’s undeserved love of us? It is. But this doesn’t mean that certain actions don’t naturally have certain outcomes. If I cycle everyday, I will get fitter and stronger. If I put on a show, donning lycra and talking to everyone about cycling, I might sound the part, but I won’t get fitter and stronger. If I pray, my prayers will be answered, if I don’t, they won’t. Cause and effect – God can’t answer prayers that aren’t prayed! There is still grace here though – when we pray, God chooses to answer, not because he has to, he isn’t obliged to in anyway, but because he wants to as our Father. So did I lie yesterday, are their two motives for prayer? Not really, prayer is all about our relationship with our Father and the ways in which we, and he, express our commitment to each other.
What do you seek from your Father today?