“When you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production.” Mt 6:5 MSG
Jesus said the Pharisees turned prayer into “a theatrical production,” and that God wasn’t moved by it. Author John Ortberg points out five things about them: “(1) Their prayers had become a shallow exercise rather than a deep relationship-building one. (2) They were rituals, rather than authentic expressions of a loving heart. (3) They were long and wordy, designed to impress others. (4) They were filled with meaningless clichés. (5) They became a cause for pride rather than an opportunity to express humble reliance on God.” Can you imagine your child approaching you with a whole bunch of religious “thee’s” and “thou’s”? How would it make you feel? When it comes to prayer, Jesus said: “Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense His grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and He knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply” (vv. 6-8 NIV). You can pray anywhere, at any time: in your car, in the bathroom, lying in bed, while you’re exercising, or at work. All God asks is that you be spontaneous, personal, and honest. In other words, pray from your heart.