Psalm 139:1-4 “O LORD, thou hast searched me and known me. Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether.”
Matthew 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.”
In this section of the sermon on the mount, Jesus addresses the issue of sincerety toward God as opposed to putting on a show. Later on in the gospels we find that Jesus has the harshest words for the elite who put on a religious performance while hindering those who are sincerely seeking the Holy One of Israel. To most of their contemporaries, the scribes and pharisees appeared to be pure as the wind driven snow, but Jesus referred to them as “whited sepulchures.” They were beautiful on the outside, but filled with dead mens bones. While they honored God with their lips, their heart was grounded on planet earth and their primary desire was to make a name for themselves.
The reason for titling this series “The Heart of God” is that, in it we see his perfect nature, and his fervent desire to have an authentic relationship with us. He wants us to simply love him with all of our heart and to trust him with every facet of our lives. This particular chapter has much to say on loving God in sincerety and trusting him in all things. The love that he has for us is beyond comprehension and he wants all who profess Jesus as Savior to “be real.” It’s easy to become caught up in showmanship and those who never go beyond a form of godliness will have their reward in the form of earthly status. But to embrace the principals outlined in the sermon on the mount requires a genuine relationship with the Lord Jesus which can only be established when a person is born of the Spirit.
Matthew 6:6 “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thine 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.”
The secret place with the Holy One of Israel. Nobody to impress and nobody to divert our attention. It is here that we find renewal and guidance. In this place we can shut out all of the chatter and “hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.” The importance of this can never be over-emphasized; especially in a day when everybodys talking but few are taking time to listen. We often seem to struggle to listen to each other; let alone hearing the “still small voice” that we must be atuned to if we’re to remain steadfast in these final hours. When earthly obligations gang up on us to the point that we must assign time slots to them, prayer tends to become an early casualty. Regardless of how hectic our lives may be, it’s imperative to find quality time with the Lord.
Matthew 6:7-8 “But when ye pray, use not vain repititions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
There are a number of ways to approach this passage as it addresses a very present problem. Even when we set aside quality time with the Lord, it’s easy to become mechanical in our petitions. To honor God with our mouth while our thoughts are a million miles away. In short, a person could conceivably spend a great deal of time in prayer and yet be following from afar. When we come before the Lord, we should be mindful of just what’s taking place. We are entering into the presence of the one who has no beginning, who created all that is, and as the initial passage states, “knows our thoughts afar off. He knows our thoughts better than we do; along with the motivation behind each. Such is all the more reason for us to seek him in sincerety. This brings us to the Lords prayer.
Matthew 6:9 “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”
When we first come before the Lord, we must first acknowledge who he is. An intersting analogy is the way that an average person reacts when they find themselves in the presence of a favorite celebrity. They go nutty and are blown away because they’re in the presence of one whom the world holds in high esteem. Yet Jesus, the Alpha and the Omega, is as close as the mention of his name, however, we treat it as a casual thing. Coming into the presence of the Ancient of Days should never be a casual thing and it truly is a privelage to carry everything to God in prayer. We should “run” to the prayer closet with eagerness; knowing that an audience with the King of kings and Lord of lords awaits us. He who loves us and purchased us with his own blood desires to spend time with us. Too often, however, we only swing by when nothing’s going on and there’s nothing on television. (Here’s a hint: There’s NOTHING on television! EVER!)
Matthew 6:10 “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.”
To truly place the Lords will first is a strong indicator of spiritual maturity. Too often we will say “thy will be done” but we place spin on it as pertaining to a certain situation. Few of us can pray “thy will be done” with no strings attached as there’s always the very real possibility that his will is in contrast to our itinerary. Yet we must arrive at a place where we’re willing to count all but loss that we may win Christ.
Matthew 6:11 “Give us this day our daily bread.”
To ask for, and be content with, daily provision. Few of us can honestly say that we’ve arrived at such a place; and yet, what liberty awaits us there. To be completely content in Christ and no longer manipulated by the quest for a newer, bigger, better, shinier, longer-lasting cutting edge contraption that will revolutionize our life and make us ask “how did I ever get by without this thing?”
Matthew 6:12 “And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.”
A truth that should cause us all to be mindful of our attitudes toward others. Our forgiveness is tied directly to our forgiveness of others. It’s the one condition and if we don’t forgive others, we will not be forgiven either. It’s a sobering thought and yet one that we must take seriously. Tragically, unforgiveness can hide out and we may not even be aware of its presence. If our attitude toward another isn’t as it should be, we need to find out what’s causing it, get our heart right with the Lord, and get rid of that weight that’s hindering us.
Matthew 6:13 “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.”
Our God is able to deliver us from evil and keep us from falling. His kingdom is an everlasting kingdom and his word shall endure forever. Beautiful, timeless, perfect in every way. When we begin to grasp just how awersome God is, the trials of this life seem insignificant at best. As the apostle Paul wrote “to live is Christ and to die is gain.” The elements of a perfect prayer life; that of seeking the Lord Jesus above all else, is outlined here.
Matthew 6:14-15 “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive your trespasses.”
This is so important that Jesus explains it thoroughly. We dare not harbor unforgiveness, ought, envy, strife, or anything of such nature in our heart. Each of us must continually examine ourselves, lest we pick up unwanted hitchhikers and begin drifting into dangerous territories. Well, time to wrap this episode up as is’s far longer than normal. A lot of things are on my heart, but I really want to finish this series up “if time permits.” (because we never know what a day may hold) I wish to all, a blessed day in Jesus.