Jonathan Edwards on Prayer
“And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.” Matthew 6.5
Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer
Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758)
“It is the manner of hypocrites, after a while, in a great measure to leave off the practice of [private prayer]…They can omit this duty, and their omission of it not be taken notice of by others, who know what profession they have made. So that a regard to their own reputation doth not oblige them still to practise it…Therefore they may omit this duty and still have credit of being converted persons.”
None of us wants to be thought of as a hypocrite. Hypocrisy comes in various forms. We generally associate it with people who put on a good show of piety and goodness when they’re around other believers. But out in the world, they can be calculating, cold, self-serving, and even downright mean. In Jonathan Edwards’ mind, hypocrisy took the form of going through the motions of religious life – attending church, being part of a Bible study, perhaps leading in some capacity in the ministry of the church – but all the while ignoring or giving short shrift to the work of prayer. After all, people can see our faith when we’re participating in the life of the church. They can’t see whether we practice prayer with any degree of consistency, or at all. But Edwards challenges the idea that we can be true Christians apart from a growing life of private prayer. If we lack that, we may as well face up to the fact that we are hypocrites.
What would you consider to be a vibrant and necessary life of prayer for a pastor? On a scale of 1 to 10, where 10 is the highest rating, how do you stack up against that standard?
If Men Will Pray
Paul said that he wanted men everywhere to pray. But that won’t just happen. Someone will have to take the lead in showing men how to pray, enlisting them for the work, and helping them grow in consistency and power in their prayers. You have to start somewhere. Our booklet, If Men Will Pray, is a tool for learning to pray following Paul’s guidelines in 1 Timothy 2.1-8, and for enlisting another man for a 30-day prayer journey together. Watch this brief video, then order several copies of this booklet, and start enlisting your men for fuller, more consistent, and more satisfying lives of prayer (click here).
Thinking for a Christian Worldview
Christian thinkers have a Christian worldview. Our course, One in Twelve: Introduction to Christian Worldview, uses twelve diagrams to provide a comprehensive framework for thinking and living Christianly in the world. It’s free, online, and available for you to study by yourself or with your leadership team, at your own pace and on your own schedule. For more information and to register, click here.
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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.All quotations from Jonathan Edwards, “Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer” in Edward Hickman, ed., The Works of Jonathan Edwards (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1834, 1995), Volume Two, pp. 71 ff.