At any given time one will see individuals and groups of individual praying openly and publicly in restaurants before a meal, at sporting events, political events, schools, on TV (the TV Evangelizers) and even at open religious events. Is this proper? Is this the pattern Christ set for us? Is praying openly and publicly something Christ taught?
Before he taught his followers the things we should pray for and the priority of those prayers, Jesus explicitly showed that open and public prayers are improper and hypocritical. Notice what he says at Matthew 6:5-6:
When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Jesus taught that prayers to the Father in heaven are to be private and done by the individual. That they should be private can be seen in Jesus’ statement: ” But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen” as opposed to “Standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.”
That prayer to the Father is a private matter by the individual can be seen in what Jesus himself did. At Matthew 14:23 we read:
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone …
Another occasion where Jesus showed that prayer is a private and individual affair can be seen at Matthew 26:36:
Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.
At Luke 6:12 we see Jesus going up into a mountainside all by himself to pray all night to the Father in heaven:
One of those days Jesus went out to a mountainside to pray, and spent the night praying to God.
So, is prayer out in the open where there are observers proper? No, it is not. If sitting before a meal in a restaurant, why is it necessary to bow one’s head, fold ones hands, and close one’s eyes to pray? Where is this act seen in Scripture? Why cannot a silent prayer within oneself without some outward action such as bowing one’s head and closing the eyes suffice? The act of bowing the head and the closing of the eyes in public places is for one reason: To be seen by others. Jesus says one is being hypocritical; it is advertising.
Others seeing you pray is not an indication that you are a follower of Christ. To the contrary, it may show that you are pretending to be one. One is a follower of Christ not by some outward appearance or act, but what one is on the inside.
I see those who call themselves “Born Again Christians” in public frequently raising their hands to the heavens “praising the Lord.” This is done to be seen by others.
Prayer is not a ritual, but a private session and communication between the individual and their God in heaven. No one other than The Most High God, the individual, and the only channel by which prayer to Him can be conducted – Christ Jesus – should be involved.
Never say to a person, “I am going to pray for you.” Why? Because it is advertising. Rather, just go into a private place and pray. There is no need to tell the individual what you are going to do on their behalf.
Praying openly and publicly was not a pattern Jesus set or taught. The so-called Christian religious systems of the world have proven themselves hypocritical and teach those within them to become hypocritical. They teach their members to be persons who:
Love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others.
If you see only with your eyes, you will be easy to fool. R. Jerome Harris