|photo by flickr user KAZVorpal|
It's been at least a few months since we have heard that word, right? Tim Tebow is a man who is either loved or hated and if you read and listen very long at all, you will realize that the bulk of the incredibly strong feelings toward or against him is his very public faith. His prayers on the football field have even led to a new word: "Tebowing" which of course refers to being on one knee in a prayer stance.
I found the picture above when looking for images for this post and the caption underneath it said "Pic of Tim Tebo going against this passage."
...apparently it was not posted by one of Tebow's fans.
I have absolutely no intention of saying what I think of the man in relation to this verse...because I don't know him. And to be honest...the verse isn't about him. It's not even about you. When I read it, it is only about me.
The picture above omits verse 5 in which Jesus says, "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."
Clearly, Jesus had a right to make this statement about others because he knew every man's heart (John 2:25). But guess who doesn't know anyone else's heart. Me...or you. Or anyone else walking around on the the earth these days.
The problem, though, is that if I am not allowed to look at anyone else's prayer life to understand what this verse means, then I have to look at my own...and sometimes that is painful. Maybe that is Jesus' entire purpose in the statement. There are times for public prayer. The early church spent much time in prayer together. We are definitely called to let our lights shine. I can't comprehend what that means unless, to a certain extent, my faith is on display as a witness to God's glory and His redemption and grace in my life. But when public prayer...even the prayers around the dinner table with just my family...are the bulk of my prayer life...it's a pretty good clue that something is amiss in my relationship with God.
Unfortunately, we always tend to think that we "should" pray more. And "shoulds" typically just lead to guilt when they are left undone. And guilt can only motivate for a very limited amount of time. But what if we viewed Jesus' comments here as an invitation into a private one-on-one conversation with the Lord of the Universe!? Would anyone ever have to convince me that I needed to make time to go to the White house because my favorite president really wanted to sit down with me!? Would I ever have to be guilted into rearranging my schedule in order to have back stage tickets to visit with my favorite artist or actor or a locker room pass to speak with my favorite athlete because that person heard about me and really wanted to spend some time with me!?
Let's all say it together... NO!!! We would be ecstatic at the opportunity and couldn't wait to get there!
May we each forget about how everyone else is praying and remember that the LORD of Lords and the King of Kings desires an audience with me. And He is willing to meet me wherever I want to meet Him. In fact, He seems to even prefer such ignoble places as the smallest room in my house when no one else is listening or watching, because prayer is about me and Him. Not me and you or me and anyone else. Because when I forget that and yet I continue to pray before meals, or before ballgames, or before the congregation, then I have become one of the hypocrites that Jesus is referring to and whatever praise someone may or may not give me for a beautifully worded prayer...is about all the results I will see from it.