Read Matthew 6:5-8
Did you know that the word hypocrite in Greek means an actor, stage player or pretender? In other words, someone is pretending to be what they are not. In the matter of prayer, Jesus said these types of people, "Love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men" (Matthew 6:5). In other words, they made a show of praying to God so that people would think they were righteous. But Jesus said, "When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly" (Matthew 6:6). Does this mean that all public prayer is wrong? Not at all. It is clear from scripture that corporate prayer was practised (Acts 12:12). But to understand what was going on, we need to look at the culture of the day behind Jesus' statements.
The #1 Way to Pray for Others
While reading Colossians 1:9-14, I was struck by the prayer the Apostle Paul prayed for the people of Colosse. He prayed that God would fill the people of Colosse with the knowledge of God's will through the wisdom and understanding that the Holy Spirit gives (Colossians 1:9). Why did Paul pray for that in particular? He answers that in the rest of the verse. So that they may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way. By asking God to fill the people of Colosse with the knowledge of His will, Paul is asking for them to grow in their faith. And how do Christians grow? Through the wisdom and understanding the Holy Spirit gives through God's Holy Word. As we read it, the Holy Spirit opens our eyes, ears, and hearts to its message, and we grow in the knowledge of God's will.