Matthew 6: Showing One’s Self to be ‘Christian.’
I’m not the type to raise my hands in church, nor am I inclined to public prayer. I don’t feel comfortable in such actions, and they feel ‘contrived’ most of the time (that is if I do them.)
I’ve actually been told in the past that Christians should do these things, and it (in some way) proves their Christian-ness.
However, are told:
“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
This leads me to often want to reserve my prayers for private, intimate conversation with God.
Further, the (at least American) practice of public, communal prayer often results in repetitive droning on (often typified by repeated ‘Lord’ ‘God’ ‘Jesus’ as filler instead of ‘uhmm’) that ends up either boring me, or distracting me. I’m not saying it’s horrible to publicly pray, just we should be more mindful when we do so!
“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”
How often have you felt like that was happening? Also we should keep in mind …
“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Again, the recurring ‘secret’ theme, in many ways I completely understand this, and I think it naturally is complementary to the statements above --- however we can be known by our ‘fruits’ --- if our fruits are secret?
“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
I really can’t answer that --- aside from perhaps we aren’t to be concerned with others fruits, but our own. Therefore what fruits our Father sees in us, will be known to him, even if in secret. In the end, that is what is important.