More Than a Recitation

These people approach Me with their mouths to honor Me with lip-service— yet their hearts are far from Me.Isaiah 29:13

Some Christians think that prayer consists solely of reciting the words of the Lord’s Prayer, but, as the great preacher C. H. Spurgeon once said: “To recite the Lord’s Prayer and believe that you have then prayed is the height of foolishness.” This does not mean, of course, that there is no spiritual value in reciting it, providing we realize that it is not just a prayer to be recited. Personally, I would not want to deprive Christian congregations of the pleasure and joy of reciting together the Lord’s Prayer, but I do want to encourage them to view it as a departure point rather than an arrival platform.

If Jesus advised His disciples to avoid “[babbling] like the idolaters” (Mt 6:7), would He then immediately follow it by giving us a prayer to simply recite? Obviously, as I have said, one can derive great spiritual pleasure from repeating the words that Jesus gave us, but if we are to obtain the greatest value from the Lord’s Prayer, then we must view it as a skeleton on which we have to put flesh. If we view these words, not merely as something to recite, but as an outline from which we must work our way when praying, no matter what we are praying about, then we will experience a growing confidence that we are praying the way Jesus taught.

You see, it’s one thing to recite a prayer; it’s another thing to know how to pray.

Prayer

Heavenly Father, I see there can be great value in reciting a prayer, but I want to be able to do more than repeat a prayer—I want to pray. Help me, for without You I can do nothing. For Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Further Study

Gl 4:1-11; Mt 6:5; 23:14

What is Paul saying about ritualism?

When does prayer become hypocritical?

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