I was walking through a restaurant when I saw a family praying. The dad was speaking in tones too low to hear. The mom and dad were sitting on one side of the booth by the window. A son, about 12 years old, was sitting with his sister, about 9 years old, on the other side. The children’s faces looked angelic with the light streaming in and their eyes closed in prayer. Then, I noticed the dad’s hand – it was extended over his plate. He was holding a packet that looked like ketchup over the top of his overturned bun. His mouth was moving. His family was praying. But while he spoke the prayer, he was also putting something on his bun.
I do not know this man’s heart. I am certainly glad he is teaching his family to give thanks to the source of all blessings when they eat. But I could not help but think about Jesus’ warning about only being religious when other people were looking. “Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. . . . 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. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Matthew 6:1, 5-6).
What our religion looks like to the people around us should never be our focus. God wants our commitment to him to come from the inside – the innermost part of our being. Always remember, Jesus already knows your heart.