Matthew, Chapter 6
Matt. 6:1 "Take heed that ye
do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no
reward of your Father which is in heaven. 2 Therefore when thou doest
thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in
the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men.
Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. 3 But when thou doest
alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: 4 That thine
alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself
shall reward thee openly."
The above passage along with
the passages on prayer and fasting show us that we are not to make a
show of religion. Religious exercises are not designed to impress the
multitude. We are not in an arena trying to impress others with our
religious devotions. Alms are compassionate deeds exercised toward the
poor. How often in the world do you see the wealthy in this worlds
goods call together the reporters and cameras that they may make a show
of compassion toward the needy. The Lord said they have their reward.
They sought to be seen of men and they were seen of men. That is their
reward. However, God did not recognize their deeds as charitable acts.
They were looking for reward for their action. We, as the disciples of
Christ, are not to look for the reward of men, but because of the love
that God has placed in our hearts we are to manifest that love towards
others, but not to be seen of others. In other words, our alms are to
be completely unselfish and without the promotion of ourselves.
The Lord said to make a show
of alms giving is the act of hyprocrisy. He said the hypocrites sound a
trumpet before their deeds in order to be seen of men. The Lord told us
to do our alms giving in secret. He certainly takes note of what we do
in secret and he has promised to reward us openly. It certainly will be
open to our heart as we feel the blessings of God on our heart for the
privilege of being able to manifest the love of God in our heart to
those in need.
We should do our best to do
any alms giving in secret. While it is not always possible that the
recipients of alms not know where they came from, yet we should strive
to do so, if at all possible.
Matt. 6:5 "And when thou
prayest, thou shalt not 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. 6 But
thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut
thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which
seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. 7 But when ye pray, use not
vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be
heard for their much speaking. 8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for
your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him."
The above passage deals with
our individual private prayers towards our God. Public prayers offered
as part of public worship towards God are not dealt with in the above.
There are individuals who like
to make a show of their religious devotions. As a part of their show of
religion they make an effort that people may view them as religiously
devoted people. Often they pray in order that people may see them
praying and recognize them as being zealous of their religion. The Lord
said they were hypocrites. A hypocrite is a person who acts contrary to
what they profess. Prayers are to made to God and not to men. To pray
in order that men may see is contrary to a true devotion and worship of
God. Thus, it is hypocrisy. The Lord said these people have their
reward. They prayed to be seen of men and they were seen of men. That
is their reward.
Our prayers are to be directed
to God and not to men. God is the only one that can answer our prayers
and he will hear them even when we only think them in our heart. It is
not necessary that we make an audible sound in order for God to hear our
prayers. Hannah prayed in her heart, but not with an audible sound: 1
Sam. 1:9 "So Hannah rose up after they had eaten in Shiloh, and after
they had drunk. Now Eli the priest sat upon a seat by a post of the
temple of the LORD. 10 And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed
unto the LORD, and wept sore. 11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD
of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid,
and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine
handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of
his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. 12 And it came to
pass, as she continued praying before the LORD, that Eli marked her
mouth. 13 Now Hannah, she spake in her heart; only her lips moved, but
her voice was not heard: therefore Eli thought she had been drunken."
The Lord taught us that we
should enter into our closet to pray in secret. The word "closet" comes
from a Greek word meaning a secret or private chamber. I personally
have found it helpful to go for a walk when I pray. When walking alone
I can shut out the world and its distractions while I pray secretly in
my mind to God. In this manner, I have entered into my secret or
private chamber and made my petitions to God. Likewise, I have prayed
while driving an automobile. In addition, I have prayed when others are
around as I went into the secret chamber of my mind and prayed to God.
The key is being alone with God while not making a show of prayer before
We are not to use vain
repetitions in our prayers. Vainly repeating something over and over is
not going to make God understand our needs any more than he already
does. God knows our needs before we even ask. He understands the very
intent of our heart. Many have thought that they were praying when they
repeated the words that Jesus said in the sample prayer that he gave
later in this chapter. However, to repeat those words is just vain
repetition. We are not heard for our much speaking. We should make our
request and understand that God is not hard of hearing nor do we have to
explain things to him. He knows our needs before we even ask.
God has promised to reward us
openly. We will see and understand that God is answering our prayers
and it will be open unto our hearts and mind.
Matt. 6:9 "After this manner
therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10 Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. 11
Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, as we
forgive our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us
from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for
This is often called the
Lord's prayer, although it is not really the Lord's prayer but a sample
prayer that the Lord taught the disciples how to pray. In Luke
this sample prayer was in response to a request from the disciples:
Lk.11:1 "And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain
place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach
us to pray, as John also taught his disciples." Thus, the Lord was
teaching the disciples how to pray and not what words to use when they
pray. Vainly repeating the words is in direct violation of what the
Lord had previously taught when he said not to use vain repetitions.
The Lord said "after this
manner therefore pray ye." Thus, it is the manner and not the exact
words that we are to use in prayer. First, we are to recognize whom we
are praying to. We are praying to "Our Father which art in heaven." We
are not praying to an impersonal being. We are praying to our Heavenly
Father. As our Father, he cares for us and he cares for our needs. As
the one who is in heaven he is above us and certainly capable of
providing all of our needs. Additionally, he is not just my Father, but
he is our Father. My prayers are not to be just selfish, but I am to
pray for others of God's children also.
Second, the name of the one to
whom we are praying is Holy. We are to address him in a holy manner. I
have heard people say of God, that he "is the man upstairs." That is
being very irreverent and God dishonoring. God's name is holy and we
are to address him in a holy manner. I do not allow my children or my
grandchildren to address me by my given name, how much more should I
show respect unto God in addressing him?
Third, we should pray for the
needs of God's people in his kingdom and that his kingdom be established
in the hearts of his people. While asking for our personal needs, we
often neglect the needs of God's people and the needs of the Church and
the needs of the gospel to go forth to God's people. We should not
neglect these needs or asking for these needs in our personal prayers.
Fourth, we should pray the
Lord's will be done in our lives. Often our own personal desires
conflict with the will of the Lord. The Lord's will is always better to
follow than our will when it is different from the Lord's will. When we
pray for something in our lives it would be good if we prefaced the
prayer with something like, "nevertheless not my will but thine be
done." Thus, we should desire the Lord's will in our lives (earth) as
the Lord's will is done in the glory world (heaven).
Fifth, we should pray for our
daily needs. We have a daily need to provide the natural fuel for our
natural bodies. We also have a daily need to provide the spiritual food
for our spiritual lives. These needs are ever with us and we should
daily pray that God will provide for us both to have natural food and
that we may have spiritual understanding of his word.
Sixth, we should pray that God
would forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. In the account in
Luke, the word, trespasses, is used in place of "debts." Please note
that this is a conditional prayer for forgiveness that is dependent on
our forgive others of their trespasses against us. This principle is
set forth in the next segment of scripture we will study and so I will
reserve further comment until we get to that passage.
Seventh, we are to ask God to
both lead us and to deliver us. We should ask God to lead us in paths
of righteousness and to deliver us from the evil in which we sometimes
find ourselves surrounded or entangled. Most people seem to think they
can direct their own pathways. When we direct our pathways we will end
up entangled with evil. However, when the Lord leads us we will be in
the best condition we can possibly be in.
Finally, we should recognize
in our prayers that the kingdom is of God, the power to walk in that
kingdom is of God, and the glory of that kingdom is of God. We are to
give him praise for his kingdom, for the exercise of his power and for
the glory of who he is and what he has done and will do.