Teaching about giving and prayer
(Read Matt 6:1-8).
Jesus is teaching about giving. He warns that we do not give alms for human recognition. We are to serve God because we love him and not because we desire something from God. Those who do good work for human praise will not be rewarded in heaven. Those who are willing to serve God in secret will be rewarded openly. Pharisees made public prayer to impress people. Jesus warned his disciples to avoid such outward display. It is more important that our giving should be pleasing to God. We should not give in order to receive reward but as an expression of our love to God. Our giving should be spontaneous, cheerful and regular (1 Cor 16:2). Someone has said our giving shows our spirituality. The believers should find their satisfaction and security in God rather than in wealth. Public prayer was important in the Jewish synagogues (Mark 11:25). Jesus warns against the hypocritical prayer that draw attention self. Private prayer prepares us to pray effectively. Jesus warns against vain repetition in prayer. Such praying was practiced by heathens (1 King 18:26-29). Our prayer must be sincere expression of our heart. God knows our needs even before we pray. Someone has said “Prayer is not man’s attempt to change the will of God but it is changing our will to His will. It is not conquering God’s reluctance but laying hold of his willingness to help”.
The Model Pray
(Read Matt 6:9-15).
Prayer is believer’s lifeline to God and it is the expression of our confidence in Him. The two major elements of prayer are adoration and petition. This is not the Lord’s Prayer. This is the “Disciple’s prayer” because it was the model prayer given by Jesus as a response to their request “Lord teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus had no need to ask for forgiveness because he is sinless. To better understand this prayer, we can break it down into two sets of petitions. The first three petitions focus on the glory of God and the second three petitions on our personal needs. This prayer begins by addressing God as our Father in heaven. He is our holy Father (Matt 6:9). The Christians are privileged to address God as their Father (John 1:12). God’s name was so sacred to the Old Testament Jews that it was never pronounced by human lips. Only the born-again children of God have the right to pray in this manner. In our prayers, God should be recognized as holy. He should be honored and adored for who he is. “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt 6:10). God's kingdom represents his reign and rule in the believers (Rom 14:17). It will be fully realized when Christ returns (1 Cor 15:24-28). The Christians are conformed to the will of God when Christ reigns supreme in their lives. We should make our daily needs known to God by praying “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matt 6:11). God provided the daily needs of Israel (Ex 16:14-15). Similarly, God will provide our needs when we pray (Phil 4:19). Since the believers are forgiven, they should forgive others as they are forgiven (Matt 6:12). It is the proof of our salvation. The Christians are tempted by their own lust (James 1:13-14). They should seek God's help daily to confront temptations. God does not tempt us to do evil. God may use trails to test our faithfulness to him. This prayer closes with praise. “For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever Amen “. Jesus taught disciples to pray in his name (John 14:13; 15:16, 23). Only our identity with Christ makes us the children of God to pray to our heavenly Father (John 1:12). Secondly, through Christ only we have access to God (Ephesians 2:18). Thirdly Jesus is the only mediator between God and men ( 1 Tim 2:5). Fourthly, Jesus is highly exalted and given him the name above every name. He has authority over all things and he is the Lord of all (Phi 2:9, 10; Matt 28:18). Fifthly Jesus assures us to answer our prayers (John 15:7, 16).
Teaching on Fasting, Money and Possessions
(Read Matt 6:16-24)
Fasting was practiced in the Old Testament period (Leviticus 16:29). The Pharisees fasted to display their piety before people. They disfigured their faces to get attention. This was often done with dust and ashes. The true purpose of fasting was to overcome temptations by contrition and spiritual communion (Isaiah 58:6). Jesus warns his disciples against the misuse of fasting. Voluntary fasting does appear in the early church (Acts 13:2). We are to fast secretly unto the Lord with joy. Jews considered material wealth as the blessing of God. Ill-gotten wealth is not a sign of blessing. People see money as their ultimate source of security in the world. The wealth can make us less dependent on God and more dependent on ourselves. Jesus teaches his disciples to find their security in God. He is faithful to meet their needs. God meets the needs of his people through the generosity of other believers. The generosity and compassion are the evidences of true conversion. We must overcome our natural inclination toward materialism is by prioritizing our spiritual life. We should lay up our treasures in heaven. If our spiritual sight is healthy our affection for eternal things will be strong. No one can serve two masters. You cannot serve God and money at the same time (James 1:8; Matt 6:24).
In our giving to the needy, or praying or fasting, we should avoid outward display to draw attention to ourselves.
Remedy for Worry
(Read Matt 6:25-34).
Worry is a powerful force that can distract us from serving Christ. Worrying about material and temporal things can deprive ourselves of the spiritual blessings. Modern medicine tells us that worry can shorten life. A worrying person has a divided heart. Worry does not make sense (Matt 6:25). Someone has said "It is irrational and ineffective" (Matt 6:26-27). It is illogical and not fitting to believers (Matt 6:30-32). Anxiety and worry are the result of lack of faith in God (6:30). It has a direct relationship to our spiritual and mental health. Worrying is a waste of our time and energy. It is sin. Whatever is not of faith is sin (Rom 14:23). A worrying person lives in constant insecurity. Jesus explains how God provides for birds and gives beauty to flowers. Jesus asks his disciples “Are you not much better than birds and lilies”. Stop worrying, because your heavenly Father cares for you (Matt 6:25-30). We must seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to us. When our priority is spiritual, God will take care of our material needs. Someone has said “Where God guides, He provides”. Jesus said "Do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have its own worries". Each day has its own troubles and challenges. God is ever present to meet our needs. Do not be anxious? Lord is faithful and he will provide.