Matthew Chapter 6:5-34

Matthew 6:5. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men.

We ought to pray in the synagogue, and we may pray at the corners of the streets; but the wrong is to do it to "be seen of men," that is, to be looking for some present reward in the praises that fall from human lips.

Matthew 6:5-7. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

They seem to attribute a sort of power to a certain form of words, as if it were a charm, and they repeat it over and over again. Not only do the poor Mohammedans and heathens "use vain repetitions," but the members of the Romish and other churches that I might name do the same thing; words to which they attach but very slight meaning, and into which they put little or no heart, are repeated by them again and again, as if there could be some virtue in the words themselves. Let it not be so with you beloved. Pray as long as you like in secret, but do not pray long with the idea that God will hear you simply because you are a long while at your devotions.

Matthew 6:8. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before you ask him.

He does not need to be informed, nor even to be persuaded. Mere words are of no value in his ears. If you must needs use many words, ask them to lend you their ears, for they may have little else to do with them; but God careth not for words alone, it is the thought, the desire of the heart to which he ever hath regard.

Matthew 6:9. After this manner therefore pray ye:

Here is a model prayer for you to copy as far as it is suited to your case: —

Matthew 6:9-13. After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

And then, as it there was one part of the prayer that would be sure to arrest the attention of his hearers, namely, that concerning forgiving our debtors, the Saviour makes the following remarks: —

Matthew 6:14-15. For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Therefore, in order to succeed in prayer, we must have a heart purged from a spirit of revenge and from all unkindness; we must ourselves be loving and forgiving, or we cannot expect that God will hear our supplications when we come to crave his forgiveness.

Matthew 6:16. Moreover when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast.

They seemed to say to everyone who looked at them, "We have been so engrossed with our devotions that we have not found time even to wash our faces." But the Saviour says to his followers, "Do not imitate those hypocrites; do not make public our private religious exercises, perform them unto God, and not unto men. As for those hypocrites," —

Matthew 6:16. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.

And a poor reward it is.

Matthew 6:17-18. But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.

May God give us that modest, unselfish spirit which lives unto him, and does not want to walk in the sham light of men's esteem! What matters it, after all, what men think of us? The hypocrite proudly boasts if he wins a little praise from his fellows but what is it except so much wind? If all men should speak well of us, all that we should gain would be this, "Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you, for so did their fathers to the false prophets."

Matthew 6:19-20. Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: Bbut lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Christ here first teaches us how to pray, and then teaches us how really to live. He turns our thoughts from the object in life which allures and injures so many, but which is, after all, an object unworthy of our search; and he bids us seek something higher and better: "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven," —

Matthew 6:21. For where your treasure is there will your heart be also.

It is sure to be so: your heart will follow your treasure. Send it away therefore up to the everlasting hills, lay up treasure in that blessed land before you go there yourself.

Matthew 6:22-23. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light. But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!

If thine eye be brooked up with gold dust, or if thou art living for self and this world, thy whole life will be a dark life, and the whole of thy being will dwell in darkness. "But," says someone, "may I not live for this world and the next too?" listen: —

Matthew 6:24. No man can serve two masters:

He may serve two individuals, who have conflicting interests but they cannot both be his masters.

Matthew 6:24. For either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Either the one or the other will be master, they are so opposed to each other that they will never agree to a divided service. "Ye cannot serve God and mammon." It is the Lord Jesus Christ who says this, so do not attempt to do what he declares is impossible.

Matthew 6:25. Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, —

It should be, "Take no distracting thought for your life," —

Matthew 6:25. What ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?

You are obliged to leave your life with God, why not leave with him all care about your food and your raiment?

Matthew 6:26. Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, or gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?

Do you believe that, after all your earnest labour and your industry, God will permit you to starve, when these creatures, that labour not, yet are fed?

Matthew 6:27-29. Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was never arrayed like one of these.

Christ asks then whether, by taking thought, they can add a single cubit to their lives, for I take his question to mean, whether they could, by any means, make the standard of existence any longer than it was. They could not do so, they could shorten it, and very often, carking care has brought men to their graves. Then Christ bade them note how the lilies grow, so that even Solomon could not excel them for beauty.

Matthew 6:30-33. Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? Therefore, take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 

If you want string and brown paper, you need not go into a shop to buy them, but if you buy certain articles, you get string and brown paper in the bargain. So, when you go to God, seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness, these other things, which are but the packing, as it were, the string and the brown paper, are given to you in the bargain. He who giveth you the golden treasures of heaven will not allow you to want for the copper treasures of earth.

Matthew 6:34. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

You cannot live in tomorrow, so do not fret about tomorrow. You live in today, so think of today, spend today to God's glory, and leave the care about tomorrow until tomorrow comes.

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