Listen:  140.5

I’m assuming the inquirer is referring to Matthew 15:7-8 which reads, “Ye hypocrites, well did Isaiah prophesy of you, saying, This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth Me with their lips; but their heart is far from Me.” In this chapter and in Matthew 23, the Lord rebuked the religious leaders of His day for their glaring hypocrisy. They were especially known for their pious prayers, yet the Lord knew that it was all for show, in order to gain the praise of men.  The Lord speaks of this in Matthew 5:5, And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagoues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” The Lord Jesus exposed the same shameless hypocrisy in 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.” Undiscerning men may have looked upon them with admiration as they heard their high and lofty words directed towards God and heaven, but God, Who knows all things, saw the true state of their hearts and declared “…their heart is far from Me.”

The Lord longs to hear His creatures approach Him in prayer but it MUST be with humble hearts. As we have seen, the Lord abhors the prayer of hypocrites who merely honor Him with their lips but He delights to bend His ear and listen to one who is truly pouring out his heart to Him. In Luke 18:10-13, the Lord Jesus provided us with an example of both, “Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. I fast twice a week, I give tithes of all that I possess. And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner.” The contrast between these two men could not be greater. The Pharisee is a classic example of one who drew near to God with his lips, but his heart was far from Him. Instead of thanking God for His grace and goodness, he proceeded to thank God for what HE, HIMSELF, HAD DONE and that HE WASN’T LIKE OTHER MEN.  He was so filled with himself that we are told that “he prayed with himself.” In other words, his prayer never went up to God at all; he heard himself pray but he never gained the ear of God! The publican came before God with few words coming from his lips, but they came from a heart that was truly humbled in His presence. Unlike the Pharisee who stood proud and tall, he came with his head down and smiting his chest. Instead of boasting of his piety and how he was better than other men, he asked God to be merciful to him. God was so pleased with what came from his heart that we read in verse 14,I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased: and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

I trust we will learn the simple lesson the Lord has for us in these verses. The Lord is NOT impressed with the “words of our lips” unless the “attitude of our hearts” is right. He wants us to express what’s “in our hearts,” even if no words escape from our lips. In 1 Samuel 1:13, it is said of Hannah that “she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard.” Eli, who was standing nearby, thought she was drunk, yet Hannah responded, in verse 15,No, lord, I am a woman of a sorrowful spirit: I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord.” This, dear brothers and sisters, is what the Lord is looking for in us. He wants us to come before Him and to “pour out our souls.” Then, and only then, will He give ear to our prayers and listen to the language of our hearts.  (140.5)  (DO)