How to Pray – Matthew 6:5-8

Jesus’ Teachings from Matthew’s Gospel
On How to Pray
What do you think? (Answer the first two questions, read the passage, and answer the third
question before handing out the notes.)
 How comfortable are you with praying out loud?
 Do you know anyone who prays “beautiful” prayers? What makes them sound that way? Do
you think those prayers are more effective than less beautiful ones? What makes a prayer
"When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the
synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they
have their reward in full. 6 "But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door
and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will
reward you. 7 "And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do,
for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 "So do not be like them; for
your Father knows what you need before you ask Him. Matthew 6:5-8 (NASB)
 Do you think Jesus outlawed praying out loud? Why or why not?
Insights and Questions for Discussion
Insight: Standing during prayer was common place. (Read Mark 11:25.) Praying out loud in
public is not wrong in and of itself either. Jesus did it. (Read Luke 10:21-22 and John 11:41-42.)
The motive is the key thing. If we are doing it simply to be seen and admired, we already have a
full reward and are acting as hypocrites. In Greek culture, a hypocrite was an actor who used a
mask to display how his character felt. Hypocrisy masks the true person.
 Why do you think Jesus equates praying out loud in order to be seen with hypocrisy?
 Do you prefer praying out loud or silently? Why?
 Do you stand when you pray or assume some other posture? Why do you do this?
Insight: Jesus next gave specific instructions on how to pray in secret, saying that such prayer
will be rewarded by the Father.
 Do you have a special private place for prayer?
 Why do you think secret prayer will be rewarded? (Read Hebrews 11:6.)
 How important is it for us to practice regular secret prayer? Why do you suppose so few of
us are doing this well? What do you think would help us obey the Lord in this area?
Insight: The pagans would babble (“stammer” in the Greek) to their gods in the hope that their
reluctance to answer prayer would be overcome by wearying them (1 Kings 18:26). Jesus,
however, does not condemn length of prayers or repetition, but bad motives. He prayed all
© 2013 LifeNet
Pastor Pete Beck III
Jesus’ Teachings from Matthew’s Gospel
night (Luke 6:12) and repeatedly asked God for a particular benefit (Matthew 26:44; Mark
14:39). Jesus also specifically taught us to keep coming back to God with persistence (Luke 18:18).
 What exactly do you think Jesus was getting at when he told his disciples not to use
meaningless repetition?
 Have you ever persistently prayed for a particular person, thing, or situation? What was the
result? Did you come away more motivated to pray or less? Why?
Insight: When Jesus told his disciples that our Father knows what we need before we ask him,
he emphasized the importance of believing in God’s omniscience, love, and sovereignty.
"For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all
these things. 33 “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be
added to you. 34 “So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day
has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:32-34 (NASB)
 What do you think is the main reason Jesus told his followers not to worry about having
their needs met?
 Do you think it is possible to eagerly seek both what you need and God’s kingdom at the
same time? Why or why not?
 Why should we not worry about what may happen tomorrow? Have you found an effective
way to avoid doing this? How did you discover this?
 Do you think we must pray for every detail or should simply focus on the bigger picture and
the Person of God? Why do you think this?
© 2013 LifeNet
Pastor Pete Beck III