I do not think I would have like to have been a Pharisee that day! Jesus is reprimanding and saying some very challenging words to the Pharisees. The Pharisees were a religious group in the time of Jesus, among many others. They were strict in rules and regulations and declared themselves faithful followers of the Law of Moses, the Torah (first five books of the bible). They were very religious people, devout and God fearing. Yet the problem is that they were legal in their living out these rules. Their interpretations were strict and very demanding to follow. Here we see Jesus challenge them for their seemingly outward piety yet legalistic hearts.
Matthew records seven woes given by Jesus to the Pharisees. They make it hard for people to enter the Kingdom of God because of the strict guidelines in adherence to the Law of Moses. They were very zealous in their evangelistic efforts, yet, horrendous to their converts. Jesus challenges their hypocrisy, envy, rigidity and formality.
Externalism and Legalism seem to be the name of the game when it came to the Pharisees. Their interpretation of the Law and its upkeep were legally interpreted by the letter rather than the spirit
I guess we can be all prone to Pharisee-ism at one stage or another. All of us want to be seen as pious, saying the right prayer and looking good before all others- but God knows the heart. He tests the heart and knows its ability to deceive. Religion is not to be about legalism and looking holy. It is a way of life and learning to follow the rule of Jesus, empowered by the Spirit of love in holiness and justice.
Devotional prayers that have come to us in tradition can be very helpful to our relationship with the Lord. Personally, I find it very difficult to pray devotional prayers though I will pray them. Many of these so-called devotional prayers are beautiful, wonderful words and aspirations, but there is a huge difference between praying and saying. I know many of us are prone to say and not pray. We must learn to pray by the heart and not say just to look smart! The problem we often have is that we become distracted “saying” our prayers. That is a contradiction. Prayers are for praying. When we are praying, I think we will loose distraction. These devotional prayers can be a marvellous aid to holiness and growing in relationship with the Lord if they are prayed from the heart.
Let us remove the Pharisee from our heart and nurture a heartfelt relationship with the Lord. Gad wants a heart devoted to him. Therefore, as we surrender our heart our minds begin to follow. I heard once that this is often the longest distance one is to make – from the mind to the heart

Are you a Pharisee? Does your faith and prayer life seem Pharisee orientated?

Lord, teach me to pray and not just to say. Amen