★ 6:1“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.2“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
Oh Lord please have mercy on me, so that when I sin and let my heart be more focused on how righteous my act of righteousness is that you might well up your spirit within my to convict me with love that I might be swept up in your grace and glory. That the eyes of my heart might be so distracted by your majesty that my own righteousness doesn’t make any sense at all.
I think this verse is very clear. However I do have one question; if we’re going so far as to say, “do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”, how seriously do we take that and is there any other scriptures that offer a different perspective? How about Matthew 5:16In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven, that verse is only one chapter previous to this one. The two chapters together provide a balance. The balance is humility.
✪ I think a safe gauge here is where is the glory going? If people see your good works and praise your Father in heaven – SCORE! You have just fulfilled your reason for existing in that moment. If people see your good works and praise you, or if you were hoping they would – NOT GOOD! I am thinking that, that is the time to not let your right hand know what your left hand is doing. For me, because I know my pride puffs up when I do something I think is righteous, I often have to not let my left hand know what my right hand is doing. But for someone who is less egocentrically inclinded, it may be less of a deal. This principal calls for humility, honesty, discernment and self examination.
★ 6:5“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
✪ Where is my reward? I think that the emphasis on this verse is in saying “what do you want more – the praise of men, or the praise of God”. The difference between the hypocrite and the man who prays in the closet is what they want to achieve from their prayer. The hypocrite wants to achieve a following of people who admire and are wooed by extravagant seemingly holier prayers. The scriptures say that the hypocrite will gets what he wants straight away! That’s not a good thing! If I am a hypocrite and I am praying for my mum to find religion, my prayer will be answered right away, and the answer is going to be; wow! If I care more about how my prayer sounds and looks before men, the reward and answer to my prayer will come from men! God is excluded. The hypocrit doesn’t need God anymore- he can bless himself.
In the prayer closet, I let down my front. I am a child before God. I realize that there is nothing I can offer God to make my plea more or less acceptable. My prayer is based on his will not my own. It is based on his majesty not my own. it is based on his righteousness, his compassion, his mercy, his forgiveness, and ultimately I am praying that He will be glorified and not me. 1 Chronicles 28:9 For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart”.
★ 6:7“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. It’s starting to look like the aim is not to impress God. But if the point of praying is not to cajole God into doing what we want, and if he already knows what’s in our hearts than why do we pray? I would submit that God’s intended purpose for prayer is not that we might persuade him, but rather that we might be reminded of who: is in control, we rely on, who our father is, who we really desire, who is the way of life, who all blessings come from. And when our prayers are answered, it is God who receives our thanks, praise, glory and worship!
★✪ 6:9Pray then like this: “Our- : We come before God not just as individuals but as a people together- his children.
Father in heaven,: We are acknowledging who God’s fatherly love under which we come to prayer. If it were not for his Fatherly love, our prayers would either be ignored, or we would be punished for attempting to audaciously approach God in spite of our sinful unworthiness.
hallowed be your name.a: You truly are holy and worthy to be praised.
10 Your kingdom come,: You are worthy as our king; and are strong and in control.
your will be done,b: We understand that your plan is better than ours. We are on board with whatever you want to do, even if we don’t fully understand it.
on earth as it is in heaven.: We want your reign and glory to be manifest here just like it is in heaven!
11 Give us this day our daily bread,c: We rely on you for the very basics of survival- you are more valuable than food, because our need for food comes from and is supplied for by you.
12 and forgive us our debts,: We have sinned against you, we are unworthy and in dire need of forgiveness from you.
as we also have forgiven our debtors.: We understand that just as we rely on the merciful heart of God, so to please you we must also love as you have loved and forgive as you have forgiven, with hearts full of compassion and mercy!
13 And lead us not into temptation,: We know that you are sovereign and nothing happens in our lives apart from your command…
but deliver us from evil.d: so in light of that, please protect us. Let not the enemy have any victory over us.
So far to me, all of this prayer is more of a stop and remind ourselves who is in control, who loves and provides for us, who is the center of our hope and joy, who protects us from our enemy. I am conviced, because God already knows our hearts and knows what we want and need, that his intention for prayer was a way of reminder. And I believe that he keeps prayer relevant, by often waiting on us to acknowledge these things to him in prayer before he answers – he urges us to seek him persistently in prayer before he answers, not because he can’t figure out what we want or need, or because it is taking him a while to organize it, but because in the prayer closet we are reminding ourselves, honing our minds and hearts to rely on him.
★ 6:14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. God this is truly a scary verse for me. I know how hard and frequently my judgment falls. Even from seeing someone on the sidewalk from my car, to the people in the church pews around me. Give me grace please God I pray, and change me to be like Jesus so that I might honor you with my thoughts!
★ 6:16“And when you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces that their fasting may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 17But when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, 18that your fasting may not be seen by others but by your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. I am fasting right now, so I can say for a fact that this is much harder than I thought it would be. I tend to get grumpy and very easily distracted when I’m fasting so I have to plan my fasting for times that I am not going to be around people. In truth, I still haven’t really figured fasting out, and as far as the new testament goes this seems to be all the info we get. I wonder, why do we fast? I usually fast for one of two reasons. 1) I’m trying to show God I’m serious about a certain thing and I really want his blessing and understanding. 2) I feel distance between God and I and I am fasting to show my desperation, which is kind of the same thing.
Any wisdom/understanding on fasting is very welcomed by me!
✪ Self check right now; where is my treasure? Computer, phone, car, wife, son, house, job, self? What do I feed? What do I carefully nurture as to make it strong and glorious in my life? In honesty, at this point of my life after being hit with a couple of mental bomb in the last week, I am somewhat surprised to see that it’s my ego that I am anxious to protect. My treasure may be becoming my own self image? Well that’s not going to work. What are some ways I can control my desire and re-direct it to what I really know I want? How about- remembering some key verses: Phil 1:21 For me to live is Christ & to die is gain, Gal 2:20 It’s no longer I that lives but Christ that lives in me. Mat 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross and follow me. Mark 8:36 What does it profit a man to gain the whole world but forfeit his soul? Mark 8:35 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. John 3:30 He must increase, I must decrease. Phil 2:3 But in humility consider others better than yourself. Is the message getting through? Self promotion breeds trouble. True life is in dying to self so that Christ might life within. 1 Cor 15:36 You fool! That which you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
★ 6:22The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. 23But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! These verses have been helpful to me in the fight against porn.
✪ If I am looking at something I know is purely sin (sexual sin) I am allowing the thing I am looking at to be the lamp, a guide over my whole body. So then, the repercussions of looking at porn related things is not just sin against God, but it is ruining my own self by contaminating my vision and perception of “light”.
★ 6:25“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Through to 33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Thanks Father, this is a great reminder to put things in perspective. One thing I’m prone to ignore about this passage is the balance. On one hand we have do not worry, on the other is seek first the kingdom of God. If I only heed one and not the other, it leads to false religion and depression. 1. If I choose to not worry but don’t seek first the kingdom of God, I am going to run into all kinds of trouble and have no hope to sustain me through it. I will pin my carelessness to worthlessness and my relationship with God will be “why would God want anything to do with me”. 2. If I seek first the kingdom of God, but continue to worry and be anxious about things it is because I like the idea of God and his kingdom but it is just a mythical hope that can not be relied on, therefore I am completely responsible for my well being and success. My religion is a crutch to help me explain the hard things and will eventually crash when I have done everything in my power to overcome negativity but ultimately fall under circumstances maybe even outside of my control. My pride (who is my true god) is dashed. I will be depressed because I gave life it everything I had, and it was not enough.
When you are seeking first the kingdom of God, you need not worry because your hope is in the things that happen above, not the things that happen below. Thank you Father. You are a good Dad, you don’t let us go guessing whether or not you love us enough to care for us, you tell us plainly. Please Holy Spirit, work in me to understand the strength and mercy of God and make it real in my life.