Matthew, Chapter 6

Matt. 6:1-4

          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. 6:5-8

          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 men. 

          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. 6:9-13

          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 ever. Amen."

          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.