Monthly Archives: September 2015

Praying for What is Most Needed

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. 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.

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. 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 6:5-13

Actors stand up and recite the lines everyone including the director, the other actors and the audience expect them to say. Often these are empty, memorized words detached from their own life experience. If I am not careful, I can go through the motions and pray in this way from my own desire to entertain and impress.  But what interests the Father are the quiet meaningful prayers spoken within the unseen space of my heart.

So what happens in your heart space? Do you share with the Father your deepest needs? He knows what they are. The prayer Jesus taught the disciples to pray gives us a glimpse of what is most needed for life in God’s kingdom. The words of this specific prayer reassure our hearts that our loving, holy Father is present on earth and in heaven , that His kingdom will indeed come, that sustenance will be provided, and that forgiveness will mercifully be given.   Moreover, God’s gracious presence is a source of power through temptations and offers deliverance from all evil.

When we think of all this being given to us, how can our whole beings not respond with exclamation:              For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever…amen and amen!

Seen and Rewarded

Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding. When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out. ~Matthew 6:1-4 (The Message)

Once again, I have spent several weeks being honest with myself about the spiritual heart of my religious life.

See to it that your effort to do right is not based on a desire to be popular.
If it is, you’ll get no help from your spiritual Father.
~Clarence Jordan’s, Cotton Patch Gospel version of Matthew 6:1

What I see in my life is that my actions can be hypocritical. Furthermore, I can be hypercritical of my actions and over think what I’ll do or not do because of how it will look to others. All this wastes time and energy I could be investing in God’s kingdom.

More and more I am realizing, I need God’s help and blessing if I am going to live quietly and unobtrusively in God’s kingdom. So today I am choosing to listen to these words Jesus is speaking to my heart: Blessed are you when you don’t need the spotlight on yourself but highlight the Father in all you say and do, for then you’ll really be seen and rewarded by the Father who dearly loves you.

May our lights so shine before others, that our good works give glory to our Father who is in heaven (my paraphrase of Matthew 5:16).