“When Thou Prayest Thou Shalt Not Do as the Hypocrites”

Brant Gardner

Here begins the teaching on prayer. It begins with a second reference to the hypocrites, or those who perform on the stage. The reference is not that one should never pray publicly, but rather the focus is on the purpose and function of this particular act of piety to God. The verse concludes with the same conceptual connection as did the unit on the giving of alms. That prayers are to be given is assumed. That the pious act of offering prayers would receive reward is assumed. The unit again stresses that if the prayers are given to impress an audience, then our reward will come when the audience is impressed. Perhaps we will be praised for our eloquence. Perhaps we will be congratulated on our mastery of oratory. In such cases, the act receives its reward of those to whom it was truly addressed, the public, not God.

Textual: There are two changes in this text. The second is required by the first.

Matthew 6:5

5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not [do] (be) as the hypocrites (are): for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

The first change would appear to be the removal of the italicized word, are. Once that was gone, the verb was required to be edited to make sense of the sentence in the absence of the italicized word. The essential meaning of the text has not been altered at all. The only reason for any of the changes was to remove the italicized word.

Multidimensional Commentary on the Book of Mormon