First of all, the seduction of prayer results in prayer without the heart. Prayer should always involve a bowing of the heart before God. It should always entail humbling oneself before God, casting oneself upon His mercy and receiving His grace for the meeting of one’s needs and the granting of one’s petitions. Prayer without such genuine humility is prayer without the heart.
Jesus warned against prayer without the heart. He said,
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full” (Matthew 6:5).
Such people as Jesus described here were not bowing their hearts before God in humility. Rather, they were exalting themselves before men in pride.
The hypocrisy of prayer without humility was easy to spot among the Jews of Jesus’ day. Orthodox Judaism specified three times per day that were to be devoted to prayer. Every believing Jew was to pray at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.
Any Jewish person who wanted to flaunt his spirituality might schedule himself to be in a public place surrounded by many people at the hour of prayer. He would then stand still, raise his arms into the air, turn the palms of his hands heavenward, bow his head and begin to pray with a display of great devotion.
Although onlookers might view this public prayer as a sign of deep devotion, Jesus called it hypocrisy. Why? Because it was prayer without humility. To God, it was prayer without the heart.
We must guard against prayer without the heart. It is easy to become self-conscious about prayer. I’ve heard people say that they do not want to be called on to pray in a public place without being notified in advance so that they can prepare for it. I’ve heard others willingly pray in public but\ later apologize about the quality of their prayer.
These are just two examples of the tendency to use prayer as a means of impressing others with one’s spirituality rather than as an opportunity to humbly approach God’s throne.
Such prayer without humility is prayer without the heart.
-After This Manner, Pray