SUGGESTED VERSES FOR MEMORIZATION & MEDITATION
And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8)
Pray then like this:
“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
Your kingdom come,
your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13)
Jesus came to bring the kingdom of heaven to earth, making His disciples its citizens, and the Sermon on the Mount essentially provides a brief guide for how to live in God’s kingdom. Chapter five established the basics. The Beatitudes succinctly covered the characteristics that Christ’s followers should display. Next, Jesus presented His disciples’ purpose, being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Finally, Christ discussed how the Old Testament applied within His kingdom, which He did by taking the Old Testament commandments from mere outward obedience to heart-level obedience.
Last week, we began studying chapter six, in which Jesus switches to a new area of focus. While chapter five ended with examples of how to truly obey the Law, this chapter focuses upon how to truly practice religious disciplines. Beginning with giving to the poor, Jesus takes religious piety to the heart-level as well by emphasizing the sinfulness of practicing our religion in order to be seen by others.
Jesus now moves into the topic of prayer. Like giving alms, Jesus first defines how NOT to pray before telling us how to properly pray. Two warnings are given to avoid in prayer. First, Jesus tells us not to pray to be seen before others, and second, He warns us against praying long, empty phrases in our prayers. In contrast to these missteps, Jesus urges us to pray in secret to the Father and to pray concisely, using His example of prayer, the Lord’s Prayer.
Read verses 5-6 and discuss the following.
- As with giving to the needy, Jesus warns against praying to be seen by others. What are some ways that we might be guilty of this today?
- In answer to the pride of being seen, Jesus urges His disciples to prayer secretly before the Father. Does this exclude ALL public praying? Why or why not?
- What is the significance of private, daily prayer?
Read verses 7-13 and discuss the following.
- Jesus’ second warning is against lengthy prayers that are effectively meaningless. What are some ways we might be guilty of this today?
- Jesus offers the Lord’s Prayer as a model for how our prayers ought to look. What is so significant about this prayer?
Read verses 14-15 and discuss the following.
- Picking up the thought from verse 12, Jesus gives us one final exhortation on prayer: forgive those who sin against you. How is the need to forgive others tied to our prayers?
ACTIONS TO CONSIDER
- Obey. Prayerfully evaluate your prayers. Do you pray in order to be seen by others? Are your prayers excessively lengthy? Do you have any outstanding forgiveness that needs to be given in your heart?
- Pray. Use the Lord’s Prayer as a model for praying each morning this week.