An Open Letter to Kevin DeYoung
When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. – Matthew 6:15
You are my brother in Christ. I have benefited from and so very much appreciate your ministry and your writing. I even admire your haircut. Man, that must be easy to care for!
The reason I’m writing this is simple: I want us both to grow in the faith and I also write this out of concern for the readers of your blog.
You have made it a practice to post prayers on your web site. I understand that, and, I appreciate the sentiment behind it. You are, by no means, the only one who makes that a practice. However, I want you to consider doing so in light of Matthew 6:15 for a moment.
In this passage, Jesus teaches us not to practice our righteousness before men for the purpose of attracting attention to ourselves. One obvious reason for not doing so is to avoid seeking the lauding of others to view us as being pious, devout and holy – not that there is anything wrong with being pious, devout and holy – unless, of course, we behave that way for reasons of receiving praise for ourselves from others. But, you know that.
You posted A Prayer for Sandy Hook and Us All and it got 339 likes on Facebook.
You posted A Prayer for Our President and got 1,000 ‘likes’.
You even posted A Prayer for 9/11 Ten Years Later.
The purpose of the hypocrites in Matthew 6:1 was to obtain praise for themselves. In 6:5 we see that another purpose of the hypocrites was because “they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men.”
Seen by men.
My brother, to write a prayer, which you know will be seen by many, may be seen as not an act of piety but hypocrisy, nes pas? Is it not the exact same activity which Jesus condemns in Matthew 6?
Obviously, I cannot judge your heart, only the Lord can do that. However, your actions in posting prayers on a blog – and a popular one at that – should be a red flag when it comes to a pastors responsibility to others.
An inherent goal in having a blog is increasing readership. The more readers, the more popular the blog. If we attract more readers by posting public prayers – AND the motivation in doing so is to attract more readers and praise for our public piety – are we not playing the hypocrite which Jesus condemns?
I am not saying that you post prayers with the specific purpose of public admiration for your piety. However, there is the danger of it being perceived as so.
I do not post public prayers of my own because I am afraid to do so. Matthew 6 makes me not want to. It is my hope that you will consider not posting prayers for public readership again. Even if your heart means well, we must consider the action in light of Scriptural teaching.