Mt 6:5-6  “Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” (NET)

Jesus’ words here have been interpreted by many to mean vocalized prayers in public settings should be avoided.  The only acceptable form of prayer in a public setting is silent prayer.  Is this what Jesus meant?  No, as Biblical examples of prayer make clear.

The first thing to observe is that Jesus went on to instruct the disciples how they should pray.  He told them they should say, “Our Father, who is in heaven…” (6:9)  Jesus’ use of the plural possessive implies that this prayer would be prayed aloud in a community setting.  There would be no need for a single person praying alone, or a single person praying silently in a group to use “our.”  In both cases “my Father” would be more appropriate.

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