5 "And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward.
6 "But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
7 "And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.
8 "Therefore do not be like them. For the Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.
9 "In this manner, therefore, pray:
Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name.
10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done. On earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors.
13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.
14 "For if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 "But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses."
Mere vain repetitions (v. 7) do not establish such a relationship, for God does not need our "babble." Both silence and words are necessary to be made intimate with Him, to be humbled, and to be reminded of our sins. Likewise, the words we do use must come from the heart in order to seek God Himself. Jesus teaches us here that when we pray, do not make demands or lecture God, but rather humble ourselves (go into your room, v. 6), be personal and intimate with Him (pray to your father, v. 6), and be sincere (do not use vain repititions, v. 7). Since it would be foolish to assume that God does not know our true heart, we must not confound verbosity with piety, or fluency with devotion. "Be not rash with you mouth, and let not your heart be hasty to utter a word before God; for God is in heaven, and you upon earth, therefore let your words be few." (Ecclesiastes 5:2)
In verses 5-8, Jesus, in effect, lays down two great rules for prayer. First of all, He insists that all true prayer must be offered to God. The real fault of the people whom Jesus was criticizing was that they were praying to men and not to God. Whether in public or in private prayer, a man should have no thought in his mind and no desire in his heart but God. Secondly, He insists that we must always remember that the God to whom we pray is a God of love who is more ready to answer than we are to pray and whose one wish is to give. When we remember that, it is surely sufficient to go to God with the sigh of desire in our hearts, and on our lips the words, "Thy will be done."
1"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea,
2"Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand."
3For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight."
The Sacred Scriptures are filled with exhortations and stories that encourage us to seek "The better part." One of the more familiar encounters in the New Testament occurs between a rich young man and Jesus. The first question of the young man to Jesus is "Teacher, what good deed must I do, to have eternal life?" The man came to Jesus looking for the key to eternal life. He was looking for peace with God, happiness and satisfaction. Unfortunately, he was thinking in terms of actions, deeds to be done, rules and regulations to be kept. He was hoping that by keeping the works of the Law recorded in some kind of a balance sheet, he would be piling up credit with God. In this attitude he was thinking very much like the Pharisees.
Jesus told him to "keep the commandments." Oddly enough the man asked "Which ones?" Jesus gives some examples of the commandments and the young man's response is that he already "observes them" and wants to know "What do I still lack?"
Evidently the man realized that even though he kept the law and the commandments, there was something lacking, something missing which left him empty. Jesus' response must have shaken the man to the core as it still shakes us to the core today: "If you would be perfect, go, sell what you possess and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me." Matthew goes on to say that the man went away sorrowful because he had great possessions.
What is the key to this scripture and how does it apply to us today?
The young man claimed that he kept the law. Legally there was no argument with that. However he was completely unfamiliar with the life of grace and spirit. He was completely self-centered. He looked upon his own wealth as something given to him for his own benefit. He was so immersed in his own riches that a radical amputation from them was the only solution.
The man was looking for "eternal life". The word "eternal" in the Greek original is "aionios" which does not mean to live forever. It means to live as God lives; in such a way as befits a God-life; a life that belongs exclusively to God. The essence of eternal life is not in the keeping of rules and regulations but in keeping the commandments in a spirit of freedom and joy. It is in acquiring the spirit of the Beatitudes. It is loving God first and then our neighbor as ourselves. To have eternal life means following Christ and in grace and generosity serving others without distinction. The rich young man went away sad because he loved his riches more than he loved God's children. Anyone who puts things and self before God and others, is turning his back on Jesus Christ.
22 "And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."
13 "And whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son."
14 "If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it."
7 "If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you."