“Whenever you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by people. I assure you: They’ve got their reward!” Matthew 6:5 HCSB
A hypocrite is a person who pretends to be someone or something other than who or what he or she really is. Webster defines a hypocrite as a person who claims or pretends to have certain beliefs about what is right but who behaves in a way that disagrees with those beliefs; A person who puts on a false appearance of virtue or religion; A person who acts in contradiction to his or her stated beliefs or feelings.
Jesus assumed that His disciples would be praying people, but He wanted to make sure they did not follow the example of the Pharisees who would stand in the synagogues and on the street corners to pray, making sure the people could see them. Public prayer was not the problem but rather the attitude of the person praying. They wanted to be seen by others rather than actually trying to communicate with God. They wanted others to think of them as pious, faithful, and religious.
Challenge: How is your prayer life? Are your prayers repetitious or do they seem to hit the ceiling? Are you actually talking to God or trying to impress others who are listening?