On the Lord’s teaching about prayer in the Sermon on the Mount, Stott comments:
We see again that the method of Jesus is to pain a vivid contrast between two alternatives, in order to indicate his way the more plainly. Regarding the practice of piety in general, he has contrasted the pharisaic way (ostentatious and selfish) with the Christian way (secret and godly). Now regarding the practice of prayer in particular, he contrasts the pagan way of meaningless loquacity with the Christian way of meaningful communion with God.
From The Message of the Sermon on the Mount, pages 142-152.
Ditches to Dodge
What Jesus Encouraged
|Stott’s Comment – “Thus Christian prayer is seen in contrast to its non-Christian alternatives.”|
|Hypocrisy||“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.||God- Centered: “My” not “Thy”||Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.||“It is God-centered (concerned for God’s glory) in contrast to the self-centredness of the Pharisees (preoccupied with their own glory).”Stott summarizes that we do not come to God “hypocritically like play actors seeking the applause of men.”|
|Babbling|| “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.||Intelligent and Thoughtful: To a personal God||Give us this day our daily bread,and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.||“And it is intelligent (expressive of thoughtful dependence) in contrast to the mechanical incantations of the heathen.”Stott summarizes that we do not come to God “mechanically like pagan babblers, whose mind is not in their mutterings.”|