Teaching about giving and prayer
(Read Matt 6:1-8).
Jesus taught about wrong religious practices. He warns that we do not give alms for human recognition. We serve God because we love him. Those who do good work for human praise will not be rewarded in heaven. Those who serve God in secret will be rewarded openly. Pharisees made public prayers to impress people. Our giving should be spontaneous, cheerful, generous, and regular (1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Cor 9:5-7). 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. 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 the 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 changes our will to His will. It is not conquering God’s reluctance but laying hold of his willingness to help”. God’s ears are opened to our prayers (Psalms 34:15).
The Model Pray
(Read Matt 6:9-15).
Prayer is believer’s lifeline to God. 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 model prayer Jesus taught when disciple requested. “Lord teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). Jesus had no need to ask for forgiveness because he is sinless and holy. 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 personal needs. This prayer begins by addressing God as our Father in heaven. He is our holy Father (Matthew 6:9). The Christians are privileged to address God as their Father (John 1:12). God’s name was so sacred to Jews, so that they never pronounced it. Only the born-again people 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” (Matthew 6:10). God’s kingdom represents his reign and rule now (Rom 14:17). It will be fully realized when Christ returns (1 Corinthians 15:24-28). We should make our daily needs known to God by praying “Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11). God provided the daily needs of Israel (Exodus 16:14-15). Similarly, God will provide our needs when we pray (Philippians 4:19). Since the believers are forgiven, they should forgive others (Matthew 6:12). An unforgiving attitude can lead to our spiritual ruin. The Christians are not immune from temptations. They are tempted by their own lust to do evil (James 1:13-14). They should seek God’s help to overcome 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). Jesus is the only mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5). Jesus is highly exalted and is given him the name which is above every name. He has authority over all things, and he is the Lord of all (Philippians 2:9, 10; Matthew 28:18). Jesus promised to answer our prayers (John 15:7, 16).
Teaching on Fasting, Money and Possessions
(Read Matthew 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. 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 practiced in the early church (Acts 13:2). It was to focus on Christ from physical distraction. 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 marks of true conversion. We must overcome our natural inclination toward materialism 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. You cannot serve God and money at the same time (James 1:8; Matthew 6:24). In our prayer and fasting, we should not draw attention to ourselves. We should overcome the hinderances to prayers by trusting in the promises of God (James 1: 6-7; 4:2-3).
Remedy for Worry
(Read Matthew 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 (Matthew 6:25). Someone has said “Worry is irrational and ineffective” (Matthew 6:26-27). It is illogical and not fitting to believers (Matthew 6:30-32). Anxiety and worry are the result of lack of faith in God (Matthew 6:30). It has a direct relationship to our spiritual and mental health. Worrying is a waste of time and energy. It is a sin. Whatever is not of faith is sin (Romans 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 (Matthew 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 and Christ centered, 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 sufficient to meet our needs. Christians should not be anxious about everything because it will robe our joy. Lord is faithful to provide all our needs.
Matthew Chapter 6
Teaching about giving and prayer