Giving, praying and fasting

If the followers of Jesus give help to the needy with the aim of winning people’s praise, their giving is of no value in God’s sight. They will have their reward in the praise they seek, but will miss out on any reward from God. They should keep matters of giving secret from even their closest friends (Matt 6:1-4).

 

Prayer also is a private matter. Believers do not need to make a show of prayerful zeal, as if their heavenly Father needs long and impressive prayers to rouse him to action. He is not like the lifeless idols of the heathen, but is a loving Father who understands his children’s needs (Matt 6:5-8).

In encouraging believers to pray confidently, Jesus provides a model for them to follow. Although they can speak to God with the freedom of children speaking to a father, they should do so reverently, remembering that he is holy. An expression of worship ensures that his glory comes before their needs (Matt 6:9). Believers should pray for God’s rule in their lives and in the lives of others, whether as individuals or among people in general. Their prayers may concern great things such as the completion of God’s eternal plan, or small things such as the provision of daily needs (Matt 6:10-11). They should confess their sins, remembering that God will forgive them only if they forgive others. They should also ask for God’s control in the affairs of life, so that difficulties they meet will not cause them to fall into sin (Matt 6:12-15).

If at any time believers accompany their prayers with fasting, they should not try to impress others by making themselves look sad. Their fasting will be of no value in God’s sight if they use it to win people’s praise. When they fast they should act and dress normally (Matt 6:16-18).

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