Religious Pride and Deception 39

Jeremiah 8:8 “How can you say, ‘We are wise, And the law of the LORD is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie.

Matthew 22:29 But Jesus answered and said to them, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God.

Mat 6:5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 “And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 “So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.

I Timothy 4:7 But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; 8 for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come.

The hypocrites that Jesus was speaking about were those who would pray in order to be seen by men, but also those who thought they would be heard because of their many words. Prayer is not having a long list and saying words to God about it, nor is it having a short list and praying many times with many words over it. Prayer is communing with God in worship seeking His glory and honor in all things. Bodily discipline has little or nothing to do with prayer. Prayer is from the heart or the depths of the soul. We cannot discipline ourselves for prayer if we think of discipline as what soldiers do or athletes do. No, the word for “discipline” means to train naked. The idea is to train without anything encumbering you or hindering you.

The idea of disciplining our bodies to pray is the same idea of soldiers who act with fierce self-discipline to carry out commands. I would argue that discipline like that destroys any true idea of prayer. If we are to worship in spirit and truth, then surely prayer as worship must be done in spirit and truth. We must not settle for prayer that is built on the same principles as the scribes and Pharisees, but instead we must have prayer built on inward things like love and adoration and reverence for God. We must have prayer that comes from grace in the soul rather than strong acts of discipline of the flesh. We must have hearts of love for God rather than disciplines bodies that utter words. We must have broken hearts that seek for God to give us a spirit of prayer rather than steel wills that utter words and then think we are righteous for saying them.

The proud person is one that may be able pray at the drop of a hat with orthodox words and perhaps some intensity as well, but a proud heart is detested by God and those external prayers are not true prayers in the eyes of God. A proud heart cannot truly pray because God will not give grace to the proud heart. But again, a proud person can do many things like the priests of Baal did and “pray” for hours and hours, but that does nothing but give the person more pride in his flesh which is a deception. There is more true prayer in the man in the New Testament who said “I believe, help my unbelief” than all the proud prayers of the flesh of all men in history. The one who truly prays is the one who is a beggar before the throne of grace and comes without pride or desire for the attention of other men. The true prayer is when the one praying seeks God and His glory out of love.

This may sound a bit too mystical for some, but I would argue that it is simply biblical. We can do nothing (spiritual or good) apart from Christ working it in us, so why do we think we can pray apart from Christ? Why do we think that we can seek the Lord apart from the fruit of the Spirit in our hearts? Do we really think that we can pray in truth and love from the depths of our souls for God to hallow and glorify His name unless He has worked that love and desire in our souls? It may be that the Lord’s Prayer does not just tell us what to pray for, but the kind of heart we need in order to pray for those things. But the proud heart does not see how much grace it needs in order to truly pray and so it is satisfied with words. That is to be deceived.

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