Tag Archives: hypocrites

Pray Like a Show-off.

Matterofprayer: A Year of Everyday Prayers – Tuesday, January 24, 2017


Pray Like a Show-off.

There are many, many books on prayer and meditation, from any number of faith traditions and religious orientations, both modern and ancient. I very much appreciate this little volume by the teacher Thich Nhat Hahn. I have read a fair amount of books by Christian writers on prayer and meditation, and I wanted to broaden my horizons. Thus, the little book by the Buddhist teacher, featuring prayer, meditation, mindfulness, and how to sit (in meditation and prayer).

As I read the short portion for today, I was vividly reminded of a section from one of the Gospels. First, from How to Sit: “There are some people who sit in a very funny way; they try to show that they are practicing sitting meditation.” [1] This reminded me so strongly of Matthew 6, verse 5, where Jesus tells those listening, “And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.”

What a show-offy thing to do! Whether it is sitting meditation, out in the open where everyone could see, or praying loudly on the street corners, where everyone could (likewise) see, this person’s inside attitude of the heart is not quite on target.

What could I do, to avoid such a predicament? The first thing I can do is to get my inside attitude oriented toward God (or, Ha Shem, or the Higher Power). If my inside orientation is straight, my outward expression and practice has a much better chance to be oriented in a God-ward manner.

The second thing I need to focus on is my relationship toward God. I suspect this (imaginary) person’s eyes were on other people, in both the case of Thich Nhat Hahn’s example as well as that in the Gospel of Matthew. That person’s number one priority was the horizontal relationship, with other people. I think Jesus would say—every time—that our number one relationship needs to be with God. The vertical relationship is primary. God comes first. Then, everything else falls into place.

Thanks for the excellent lesson, dear God. Now, comes the hard part: putting it into practice. Help me, Lord. Help me both practice prayer and meditation more regularly, as well as keep my relationship with You number one in my life. Lord, in Your mercy, hear all of our prayers.



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[1] How to Sit, Thich Nhat Hanh. (Berkeley, California: Parallax Press, 2014), 37.