The Dangers of Hypocritical, Phony Prayers

Praying Through the Bible #146

TEXT: Matthew 23:14: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”

If you have been attending church for a while, you have certainly heard some long prayers. Perhaps you have prayed some long prayers yourself. Perhaps, there has even been a time when, as you listened to someone pray, you perceived that they were trying to impress the audience by their prayer — that they were just pretending, and not really serious about what they were saying.

In our passage today, we find Jesus condemning those who “for pretense make long prayers.” This condemnation is not isolated, however. It is the second in a series of seven condemnations against the religious leaders of first-century Judea. These condemnations are signified by the word “woe” which means “alas.” It is an interjection of grief and denunciation. By use of this word, Jesus shows not only His righteous anger at hypocrisy but also His sadness over the state of religious affairs in Israel.

As we are focusing on the topic of prayer in this series, we are going to deal with verse 14 which reads: “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation.”

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