God’s Word Goes Forth: Come to the Lord in Prayer
Matthew 6:1-18: Jesus teaches his followers about giving, prayer and fasting. With each teaching, Jesus warns them not to be “like the hypocrites” by engaging in religious practices publicly so that others will be impressed by their piety. He also offers a model for prayer—what we know today as ‘The Lord’s Prayer.’
Today's Scripture: Matthew 6:6
When you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.
1 Make certain you do not perform your religious duties in public so that people will see what you do. If you do these things publicly, you will not have any reward from your Father in heaven. 2 So when you give something to a needy person, do not make a big show of it, as the hypocrites do in the houses of worship and on the streets. They do it so that people will praise them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 3 But when you help a needy person, do it in such a way that even your closest friend will not know about it. 4 Then it will be a private matter. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you. 5 When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites! They love to stand up and pray in the houses of worship and on the street corners, so that everyone will see them. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 6 But when you pray, go to your room, close the door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you. 7 When you pray, do not use a lot of meaningless words, as the pagans do, who think that their gods will hear them because their prayers are long. 8 Do not be like them. Your Father already knows what you need before you ask him. 9 This, then, is how you should pray: ‘Our Father in heaven: May your holy name be honored; 10 may your Kingdom come; may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today the food we need. 12 Forgive us the wrongs we have done, as we forgive the wrongs that others have done to us. 13 Do not bring us to hard testing, but keep us safe from the Evil One.’ 14 If you forgive others the wrongs they have done to you, your Father in heaven will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive the wrongs you have done. 16 And when you fast, do not put on a sad face as the hypocrites do. They neglect their appearance so that everyone will see that they are fasting. I assure you, they have already been paid in full. 17 When you go without food, wash your face and comb your hair, 18 so that others cannot know that you are fasting—only your Father, who is unseen, will know. And your Father, who sees what you do in private, will reward you.
What we do, must be done from an inward principle, that we may be approved of God, not that we may be praised of men. Why do we want others to acknowledge our good deeds? Why does Jesus want people to do good deeds without attracting attention from others? What does it feel like to be acknowledged for doing good deeds? How does it feel to do good whether or not your deeds are noticed?
Holy God, there are times when I have done good deeds, not for the sake of your will and for the benefit of your people, but to feed my need for affirmation. Forgive me for my hypocrisy. Grant me a generous heart to serve selflessly. Amen.