Matt. 6:1-15 – Acts of Righteousness
The “reward” for both giving and praying is taken from the public arena and re-centered on the individual’s relationship with our heavenly Father. These are, by nature, public acts, but the Lord’s admonition is that the “benefit” to the giver and prayer is not in the audience of men but in the secret chamber with the Lord. As I’ve rediscovered the “community” aspects of ones spiritual journey that I’d never recognized before (see 5.24), ones piety has to come from within. It is a rich and abundant thought to realize our interconnectedness and how we were made to worship as a community and support one another, but at the same time there is that essential private aspect of one’s relationship with our heavenly Father that no one else can know. I find the balance between the group and the individual amazing in it’s corporate warmth and solitude.
With regards to the Lord’s Prayer… there is a lot here in a very few verses. First thing I like is the criticism against “babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words” (vs. 7). I wonder how close we sometimes drift in that direction with our use of the gift of tongues. I know that it isn’t really prayer, but worship, so there is a difference, but the point is that we’re not going to get our way or that our prayer isn’t going to be heard on the basis of our ability to speak or put words together. Again, it is the content of our hearts. And what I see in the Lord’s Prayer, is how prayer is our expressing our needs and at the same time aligning our hearts with the fulfillment of the Lord’s will. The petition and expression of our needs/wants is there, but what is more central is our desire to be a part and walk in his will. JBB