In Matthew 6, Jesus gives us several lessons about prayer. What to do, what not to do, the attitude we should have and how to prioritize. He also says prayer personal by describing God as our Father, that he values us and that he’ll provide for us because we’re valuable. After Jesus’ discourse on prayer, he concludes with a simple yet profound statement… “so don’t worry.” Here are 9 take away’s from Matthew 6.
It’s personal and intimate
God is your Father
Your Father already knows what you need
You’re already forgiven
Don’t be self-righteous
Put God first in your finances
You are valuable to God
God is a provider
So don’t worry
IT’S PERSONAL AND INTIMATE
But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret…
Jesus says to pray to God in private. The context is our personal prayer life. He wants you to spend intimate time with God. But it’s not about the time, or even the act itself, it’s about the heart of why you pray. Prayer is not a public display, it’s a personal and intimate interaction between you and your Father. It’s a conversation.
Prayer is not about saying the right words or staying in the prayer closet for a long period of time, it’s an honest and intimate bearing of your heart to your creator. He knows what’s in your heart and the more honest you are with him and yourself, the more receptive you will be to his influence.
GOD IS YOUR FATHER
Pray, then, in this way: “Our Father”…
Jesus frames our position before God as a personal relationship. This is the main reason the legalistic “Word Police” wanted to kill Jesus, he said God was his Father. The Pharisees and lawyers thought it was blasphemous to talk about God in the context of a personal relationship. Jesus refers to God as Father at least 9 times while teaching his disciples about prayer.
Where do you stand when you pray? Are you standing next to God, at his right hand, as a son? Are you praying about your issue with God or to God? The reality is, God is standing beside you looking at your problem. He’s not on the other side of your problem, waiting for you to say or do thing right thing to move.
Understanding your relationship with God, in Christ before you utter one word in prayer can eliminate a lot of the worrying we do in prayer.
GOD ALREADY KNOWS WHAT YOU NEED BEFORE YOU ASK
your Father knows what you need before you ask Him…
Jesus says this twice, God already knows what you need. Once when he addressed the words being said and again later when he’s addressing praying for your needs to be met. It’s easy for us to believe that God already knows what we need before we ask, but it’s more challenging to believe that he’s already provided a solution before we even ask.
Prayer is like lifting a veil. Prayer is when we look to God for clarity. Jesus says to approach God in relationship, he already knows what you need, and he’ll meet those needs because you are valuable to him. Maybe prayer is more about receiving wisdom, direction and clarity from him than it is telling God what we need and what he needs to do to give us what we want.
I promise you, no matter how great of a plan you develop for God to follow, his plans are much better than yours. The question is this, do you believe God wants to meet your needs and that he does it with good plans only. I’m reminded that James says the good things come from God.
YOU’RE ALREADY FORGIVEN
This one’s a bit more tricky to discern. Let’s look at two passages to understand the perspective we can use to understand Jesus teaching on forgiveness in the middle of his instruction on prayer.
JESUS in Matthew 6:15 But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
PAUL in Ephesians 4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.
PAUL in Colossians 3:13 Make allowance for each other's faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.
Which is it, forgive people so God will forgive you OR because God has forgiven you, forgive others?
Does Paul contradict Jesus?
The way forgiveness comes changed after the cross. Jesus is the sin offering for the whole world, he had not yet been offered when he was teaching. It’s not that Jesus was wrong, forgiveness in him was not yet available because he had not yet died. It’s really that simple. Because Jesus has died, we are already forgiven.
DON’T BE SELF-RIGHTEOUS
When Jesus teaches about fasting, the heart of the matter is self-righteousness. He’s saying, don't put on public display those things you’re “doing for God.” Testimonies are great but they can turn into personal glory. Any godly behavior you engage in should be done as service to the Lord rather than something you broadcast publicly for selfish reasons.
PUT GOD FIRST IN YOUR FINANCES
where your treasure is, there your heart will be…
One of the most precious take-aways from Matthew 6 is God’s heart toward us. He values us and doesn’t want us to worry. We don’t have to worry about our needs being met because he promises to meet those needs; specifically food, shelter and clothing. If we’re honest, those are things we pray about all the time. We also pray about direction, other people and life’s circumstances but even in most of those there’s a tie back to God’s promise to meet our basic needs.
Because God values us, and because he gives us a solution to have our needs met, we don’t have to worry about saving up a bunch of money or depending on money to meet all our needs. The deceitfulness of riches is one of the main culprits that keeps the word from bearing fruit in our heart. (Mark 4)
YOU ARE VALUABLE TO GOD
Are you not worth much more than they?
God directly ties your needs being met to his value for you. If you take Jesus at face value, he’s saying that you’re more valuable than flowers and birds to God, of course he’ll take care of you.
Often times we feel that God is distant and uninvolved, that he doesn’t care about our personal lives. But Jesus paints a much different picture of God. He portrays God as emotionally involved with you, aware of your needs and willing to provide for you.
This is a fundamental shift that needs to made in the hearts and minds of Jesus followers. God is not putting us through trials and tribulations to see if we’ll remain faithful. And then bless us based on our faithfulness. No! He’s a good Father, who cares for you, who loves and values you, and wants to take care of you.
GOD WILL MEET YOUR NEEDS
seek first the kingdom and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you…
When Jesus stepped into his public ministry, he taught people to repent for the kingdom was at hand. You don’t have to go looking for the kingdom, Jesus brought it to us. Also, you can not seek righteousness because it’s impossible for you to attain. Righteousness is by faith in Jesus.
So to seek righteousness and his kingdom are more of a mindset, it’s a call to repentance. We must shift our thinking, set our minds on things above. Jesus is not talking about your performance. No amount of effort can be good enough to qualify for your needs to be met. Since we have been translated into his kingdom and he’s given us the free gift of righteousness, we can rest in him and allow him to provide for us. In fact, as we’re aware of our place in his kingdom, in him and our right standing before him, everything we need will simple be added to us, much like an apple is added to an apple tree.
SO DON’T WORRY
who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?
Worry is not prayer. Worry hinders the Word of God in your heart. Worry is the enemy of faith.
So don’t worry! Because God is your Father, and because he values you, and because he has good plans for you, you don’t have to worry. because God will provide for you. So here’s the question, did God really say that? Did he mean it? Will he really meet all your needs according to his riches in glory? That, I’ll leave for you to decide.