Ellen DeGeneres was on TV the other day. I watched her dial a male nurse at work. This guy had sent her a message saying that they shared the same birthday and would love the opportunity to spend their birthdays together.
At first, she pretended to be a staff member from her office calling to speak to him. When she finally identified that it was her talking, the man shrieked in the phone and could not contain his excitement.
She was going to fly him in to share their birthdays together.
When we pray, it’s important to know whom we are speaking to. It makes all the difference in the world.
In Jesus’ prayer lesson He told us to speak to our Father. God is not just my personal father as an only child, but also a shared father. I have many brothers and sisters. Sometimes I speak to my Father alone. I also speak in the presence of my brothers and sisters. We share God. Jesus tied the family dynamic together when He said,
25 And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
The Father of forgiveness expects the family to behave accordingly. This family has some house rules. Forgiveness hangs over the door on both sides, coming and going.
Perhaps the Pharisees public prayers lost sight of ‘our Father’ and became ‘me as a guardian of all things religious’.
Perhaps the prayers were directed more instructionally to the listeners than as an inclusive family message to an approachable father. Jesus said they prayed to be seen of men.
We need to guard our public prayers from acts of performance. We are not praying to the crowd but to the Father.