Acts of Righteousness before Men (6:1)
Giving Alms in
Prayer in secret
How we should
reward, in secret, I tell you the truth, your Father.
1. Each teaching
begins with a warning on what not to do and the reward from men. Then the Lord
instructs us to do these deeds in secret so that the heavenly Father who sees
in secret may reward us openly.
2. Hypocrites are
those who like to do good in public in order to
receive men’s praise. Their acts are superficial and insincere.
3. What the Lord
condemns is the hypocrisy that lies behind the deeds, not the place where the
deeds are performed. The Bible teaches us to take every opportunity to do good (Gal 6:10). As long as we do not deliberately display
our generosity or piety to receive men’s praise, the setting where we perform
these good deeds should not determine their value.
1. Honoring of God’s name; establishment of God’s kingdom on
earth; daily provision; forgiveness; deliverance.
2. God is not
only a king but also a caring father. He is the father of all men (Eph 4:6). As
our father, he will give us good gifts when we ask Him in prayer (7:11).
3a. Everyone may know God for who He is and honor Him (Ezek
3b. May everyone submit to God’s authority and carry out His will (Rev
11:15-17). This also means the spreading of the gospel of the kingdom to the
ends of the earth (24:14; 28:19,20)
3c. Asking God to
lead us not into temptation does not suggest that God might lead someone to sin,
for God does not tempt anyone (Jas 1:13); Looking at the words that follow,
“but deliver us from evil,” we can understand that we need to ask God to not
give us over to sin lest we be ensnared by it (Mt 26:41; cf. Rom 1:24; Gal
6:1). The word “temptation” also means “trial that results in fall.” We need to
ask the Lord to let us not be tempted beyond what we can bear (1Corinthian
10:13; Lk 21:36).
4. There is a
difference between meaningless repetition and persistence in prayer. The Lord
Himself made lengthy prayers and repeated Himself in prayer (Lk 6:12; Mt 26:44); He also taught the disciples to always
pray and not give up (Lk 18:1). What Jesus wanted to
correct was the false assumption that prayer with many words will be heard. A
prayer with a sincere and contrite heart means much more to God than one with
repetitive words and fancy language (see Lk 18:9-14).
5. The Lord’s
instructions have to do with how to pray rather than what to pray (see vs 9). Reciting the Lord’s prayer
without understanding what we are praying about would be meaningless. Instead,
we ought to make the Lord’s prayer our own and live a
life that reflects this attitude.
6. We are to
intercede on behalf of everyone (1Tim 2:1). Saints of the past, such as Moses,
Samuel, Nehemiah, Daniel, Jeremiah, and Paul were known for their intercessory
7. Personal or
group fasting was done usually as self-humiliation before God, often in
connection with repentance (Neh 9:1,2; Ps 35:13; Isa 58:3,5 Dan 9:2-10; 10:2,3; Jon 3:5; Acts 9:9) or as
special petition to the Lord (Deut 9:18; Judg 20:26;
2Sam 1:12; 2Chr 20:3; Ezra 8:21-23; Est 4:16; Acts
14:23). Fasting was also done in connection with devotion and service to God (Lk 2:36,37; Acts 13:2,3; Mt
4:1-2). Prayer with fasting, if done with sincerity, is powerful; it can even
drive out evil spirits (Mt 17:21).