Prayer is an essential part of being connected to God. Through prayer we can communicate with Him our gratitude, worries, ask questions, share our joy, and feel comfort in our pain. We are counseled to “Pray continually” (1 Thessalonians 5:17), no matter what our circumstances might be like in the present moment.

During His ministry, Jesus taught us how to pray. In one specific instance, He also spoke about what should be avoided when praying.

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 … but when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your father who is unseen.” (Matthew 6:5)

This is a profound lesson that we often overlook. We must learn to pray with pure intentions. This means that when we pray, we do it with the sole purpose being to communicate with and glorify God. Praying just to be seen in public as a spiritual person is not the right reason to pray. This type of praying is centered in pride, not in humility. Prayer given only for personal praise loses any meaning in God’s sight if we are only doing it for ourselves.

We must choose to pray when no one is watching. We should try to pray earnestly in private as much as we do in public with the intention to communicate with God. Making the effort to be alone with Him can help us to stay focused and show respect and love to God.

At times, we may get caught up in worrying about what others think or perceive of us and how spiritual we are. We might want to impress them or be seen as great examples. However, if we only “talk the talk” and don’t take time to “walk the walk”, we may eventually find that our words and our actions no longer match up.

We must strive to live a congruent life as followers of Jesus. God knows that we are imperfect and will make mistakes. What He wants us to aim for instead is to have integrity in the way we live. Our actions in private should match our actions that are seen in public.

As we make efforts to align our words and our hearts, we can show God that we are living a life of integrity, and this will bring power to our prayers. When we know that we are doing our best, we are less likely to stray away from God and find excuses to avoid talking to Him. We will feel more confident as we kneel before Him to pray and will be able to feel His love more fully in our lives.