Matthew 6:5-15

There is a time for such prayer, and it is often.  However, when Jesus speaks of praying to the Father in Matthew 6, He is speaking of secret prayer.  He cautions us not to pray outwardly, for the show of men.  The religious leaders of the time were more concerned about the praises of men than the praises of God, for they stood outside the synagogues and prayed loudly in public, and Jesus condemned such actions (Matthew 24:14).  Paul too stipulated that God’s people are not those who follow His law outwardly and who make a show of doing good.  Instead, he says that a Jew is one who is a Jew inwardly and who obeys God no matter what (Romans 2:28-29). 

The change, Jesus taught, must be a washed inside, and then the outside will also be clean (Matthew 24: 25-26).  He warns the Pharisees of their proud displays of religiosity, and that should be our caution as well.  They have received their entire reward.  They do it for men, and men pay their respects, but God has lost all respect for such people.  It is a perversion of our relationship with God to use it to show off for men. 

Rather than seeking temporary praise from men, we should seek the eternal praise of the audience of One.  We must seek our reward from Him.  How?  By going into the secret place with God and surrendering ourselves to Him.  We must pour out ourselves and give God the control.  This is the way it is with our hearts.  When we go to God in our hearts, the hidden place, shutting out everything else, God responds to us and hears us and answers our heart’s cry.  When we give to Him for the simple reason to please Him and no one else, we touch the heart of God.  We tell Him,  “God no matter what else is happening, no matter what others think or what circumstances are going on around me, I just want to give to you because you’re worthy of it.  Because, you’re not only my God and Savior, but you’re also my friend, and I want to give my all to you.” 

God sees that and hears that and responds to that, and His reward is not only inwardly, but outwardly.  He cleans “the inside of the cup and dish” and the outside also becomes clean.  He blesses those who are more concerned about obeying Him and pleasing Him than about the circumstances that are around them, no matter who’s watching them or what He asks of them to do or say.  He is the proud Father who says, “This is my son/daughter in whom I am well pleased,” as He did to Jesus.  God is not so much concerned with what we say as He is about where the heart is.  He seeks whole-hearted people who pray because they are dependent on His provision, not those who would make eloquent speeches for show or say many words to sound spiritual.  Even if we come to a point where we just say,  “God . . .” He knows what we need and is willing to finish the sentence for us though we may not know how to (Romans 8:28).


—Mark


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