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For the week of July 31, 2023 The Motives behind Our Prayers and Worship

People do what they do for a variety of reasons, some good, some not so good. When we see someone do something that doesn’t end well, we sometimes wonder, “What were they thinking?” Our actions guide the course of our lives; we therefore must examine ourselves to determine the reasoning behind the actions. Our motives may not be visible to the naked eye, but the results can speak volumes about our mindset.

We live in a world guided by greed, lust, anger, a need to impress others, and plenty of other impure motives that occupy people’s minds. By contrast, believers are commanded to think on whatever things are honest, just, pure, lovely, and of good report. Pure motives clash with worldly values, but they’re pleasing to God. Instead of following our own agenda, we’re called to pursue righteousness, faith, love, and peace with those who call on God with a pure heart.

The proper motives apply not just to life in general, but also specifically to our prayer lives. The reasons behind why we pray can either make our prayers part of a life of worship, or turn them into self-serving bragging to God. The parable Jesus told about the Pharisee, whose prayers were motivated by self-righteousness, and the publican, who went before God with humility, illustrates this. Thankfully, the Spirit of grace changes our motives and moves us away from the type of the mindset the Pharisee had.

Religion teaches us to recite our prayers, but turning them into a theatrical production designed to get what we want from God won’t work. Praying with pure motives turns our lives into a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. Praying—or even preaching—for personal profit is offensive to God. Worship connects us with Him; letting sincerity be our guiding motivation empowers our prayer lives.

Prayer:

God, our prayers are a key component of our worship, and the motivation behind them is crucial. Your Word teaches us the importance of godly motives and how they make our lives pleasing to You. We’re grateful for your assistance in this area. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Scriptures:

Philippians 4:8

2 Timothy 2:22, NKJV

Luke 18:9-14

Matthew 6:5, 7, MSG

2 Corinthians 2:15, 17, NLT
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