Matthew 6 v 7 ……they think they will be heard because of their many words
It is the most common failure of human nature to realise that we cannot be accepted by God on the basis of our own human merits. Sometimes these merits may take the noble form of prayer. Jesus said the “pagans”, ie the nations who were not Jewish and worshipped a variety of deities, practised a form of prayer that included long streams of meaningless babble. The fact is they thought they would be “heard” because of that action. You must not be like that, said Jesus. You cannot be acceptable because of long prayers or any other form of devotion in and of itself.
This is a very counter-intuitive thought for people today. In spite of how it might seem, religion is still very popular in our day and age. For many their religious views and feelings have been privileged, but whatever they believe, it will include some form of prayer. But Jesus was including in his instructions more than prayer. His words take in the whole spectrum of activities we do, in the hope that we will be heard by God.
But the whole basis of Christian truth is not merit but grace. God accepts us not because of what we have done, or continue to do but because of what Christ has done on our behalf and His on-going intercession for us in Heaven. If we had to merit or earn God’s listening ear then at what point will we have done enough? How do we even know that we have built up enough “points”? We would live with the most tortured uncertainty. Is He hearing me, is He not?
Prayer Heavenly Father, how foolish we are to think we have anything in and of ourselves of merit. How great is your grace to cover our foolishness. Forgive us and help us to trust in your grace daily. Amen