Matthew 6:1-15 (ESV)
1 “Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. 2 “Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 3 But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7 “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. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 9 Pray then like this: “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 also have forgiven our debtors. 13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
The Sermon on the Mount continues through Matthew’s sixth chapter. And Jesus again explains how important our motives are to God. When we do good deeds or give, we should never do so to impress others. Instead, we should perform acts of kindness from a grateful heart, even doing things in secret, knowing that God sees all of our actions and won’t overlook any of our service to him. Then Jesus contrasts the wrong way to pray (before others) with the right way to pray (before God). After instructing his disciples to begin prayer with worship, Jesus taught his followers four things to ask for: God’s kingdom and will, daily bread, forgiveness, and deliverance. It’s fascinating to think about the phrase “daily bread.” First, the request for daily bread comes immediately after the request for God’s will to be done in our lives and the lives of those for whom we pray. It seems like a jump from one realm to the next as Jesus moves us from God’s kingdom directly to our physical needs. Yet, how encouraging to know that God takes our needs seriously. When Jesus taught his audience to ask for bread, he included the word “daily.” We are to pray continually or daily that God would grace us with the resources we need for life. He wants us, in humility, to depend on him for literally everything.
Do you ever feel like your physical needs aren’t important to God? We often look at the template for prayer Jesus gave his disciples and get so caught up in the wonder and majesty of it that we forget how valuable we are to him. The model Jesus gave us shows that God desires our continual dependence upon him. What a contrast to “checking the box” when we pray, simply going through the motions. God wants our total trust. Are you relying on God for your daily bread? Do you come to him often, asking him to meet your needs? Or do you wait until circumstances become really difficult before you pour your heart and requests out to him? Make sure dependence on God through prayer is the habit of your life. The more you ask him for help, the more humble you will become and the more you will see his hand of provision. Let the phrase “Give us this day our daily bread” remind you to pray without ceasing.