As we continue looking at the Sermon on the Mount, we come to the middle portion. Jesus’ sermon captivated the audience. His philosophy was radical, challenging the people to let go of every code they lived by and to embrace His new covenant. We saw the progressive Beatitudes, each one building off of the previous one. We looked at the spiritual aspects of being salt and light, of turning the other cheek and handing over all our clothes, and going the extra mile.
We moved from Jesus leading us to having a proper relationship with Him to how to be a witness and love our neighbor, dispelling the rabbinical teaching of hatred. We now move further into His teaching in chapter 6. In this chapter, Jesus opens and closes by teaching us to put Him first.
The opening in this chapter is straight forward, along with its message. The Pharisees were hypocrites, or “actors” parading their good deeds for all to see, but they were actually neglecting the people and placing heavy yokes upon them. Through the gospels, we will see Jesus break His own law to teach the people that the law was made for man, not man for the law. In other words, it is the principle we must adhere to with the right attitude towards our Master. Our righteous acts must spill over from a heart full of devotion.
The three classifications of righteous acts were:
- Prayer – reflects our relation with God
- Denying the flesh – reflects our relation to ourselves
- Giving – reflects our relation to others
There was actually a practice during this time of blowing a trumpet when a donation to the poor was given. Even the offering boxes, or coffers, were shaped like trumpets so when the penny dropped, it would resound. This also protected the offerings from thieves.
The Model Prayer
Jesus moves from public attention to teaching a model prayer. This prayer is still recited in corporate worship today. It is known as the Lord’s Prayer. It was also called the Disciple’s Prayer. And that is what we are!
Jesus, knowing the necessity of communicating with the Father, taught us how to pray. The Lord’s Prayer was a standard prayer or a template of prayer. A misnomer some churches lead their congregation to believe is that these exact words must be prayed. Again, Jesus wasn’t forcing people to perform a ritualistic prayer, He was teaching them how to approach the Father, to come with a humble heart. Here Jesus summarizes the teaching about God kingdom.
There is something very significant about Jesus beginning the prayer with “Our Father.” We assume some much and read right over it. The beauty we might miss is that God was presented here, for the first time, as an accessible caring person. This was not the God of the Old Testament. Here He has come down from His throne to meet us, to teach us to not be afraid of Him. This would be radical teaching back in the day.
Sections of the Lord’s Prayer
At the end of the prayer, Jesus speaks of forgiveness. Its message is straightforward. It must have been commonplace for people to wrong one another, and to hold grudges or unforgiveness. He was speaking to the peasants here, and they probably had more offenses to forgive, largely against the Pharisees who were oppressing them.
Here is a list of the sections of the model prayer:
- Recognize who God is
- Worship Him because of who He is
- Seek the will of God through the Word of God and do it
- Petition God for every big and little thing
- Ask God to forgive your iniquities, after having first forgiven others
- Seek an escape route from evil
- Close with a doxology or benediction claiming who God is
When we prayer, we are in the presence of the Creator of the universe. Faith is needed to have effective prayer. He is able to do anything we ask or think. His very name, Jehovah, in Hebrew means “Becoming One” and He is able to become what we need.
The biggest and ugliest sin is pride. And with it, we cannot reach God. Pride lies to us and we must constantly confess it. A self-examination will reveal to us if we are in need of confession. I tell you, I must re-examine myself frequently!
If we struggle with:
- Thinking we are better than others
- Discontentment with our circumstances
- Thinking we deserve more than we have
These thoughts are driven by pride. In order to overcome them, we must confess them. If you struggle with these routinely, get with a close friend and ask them to make you accountable in order to have victory over pride! It may just be the thing you are holding onto that is keeping God from being able to hand you a blessing or an answer to prayer.
If we don’t exchange pride for humility, we are ignoring the disastrous consequences! Even Christ was humble! Consider His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. Prayer isn’t the position of the body, ultimately. It is the position of the heart.
Written by Jori Sams
Jori Sams is a Christian author and freelance writer with nearly 2000 published pieces on the Internet, with over 1500 being published by Yahoo. Her books are published through Writeious Books. When she isn’t writing, you can usually find her following the sun…