Summary: Jesus teaches more about "the Christian Righteousness", revealed in giving, doing, and praying; He gives us the model of "the Lord's Prayer.
“Doing and Praying”
Matthew 6: 1-13
Living the life of a Christian, a person who has been called into the Kingdom of God, is not a “cake-walk”: This business of following Christ is serious and difficult, and I totally agree, and nobody does it perfectly, even though the last verse in chapter 5 of Matthew ends with “You shall be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect.” Thankfully, our perfection and righteousness for sin, is imputed to us, not earned! It is given to us as a gift of God’s grace, but it effects a change in us that frees us from our old ways and empowers us to accomplish the deeds which God has prepared for us ahead of time.
It also does NOT mean that we stop learning or stop being instructed. Matthew 6 begins with this:
GIVING and “DOING”
1 "Beware of practicing your righteousness before men to be noticed by them; otherwise you have no reward with your Father who is in heaven. 2 "So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 3 "But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, 4 so that your giving will be in secret; and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Jesus does NOT say that you shouldn’t do charitable, good or loving deeds, but He does give instructions as to WHEN you do these things. We ARE to help the poor; we ARE to support God’s Kingdom and those “less fortunate” with our tithes and offerings. That’s why Jesus says WHEN, and not IF. Again Jesus is speaking to practices that were all too common among Jewish society.
It was common Jewish practice to blow the trumpet in the street to announce public fasts, but that would be an announcement to the secular people too, which said: LOOK at WHAT WE’RE DOING! We’re going to fast. We’re going to be pious for every to see. Figuratively Jesus is saying, when you practice devotion and worship, you should not call attention to yourselves. What you are DOING or GIVING is not about YOU, but about giving tribute to the God who has SAVED you, and given EVERY good thing to you first. If you are calling attention to yourselves, you are hypocrites, actors playing a role on the world-stage who are calling for people to focus on THEM instead of on THE God, who should be center-stage.
Jesus really brings to mind the Beatitudes with this counsel on giving and practicing piety: Giving should be marked by self-sacrifice and self-forgetfulness, not self-congratulations. This type of giving agrees with the selfish attitudes and behaviors of the Spirit of God and that of the Savior, in direct opposition to that of the world.
If you are receiving the accolades of men for your good deeds, it could be that you are “performing” with the wrong heart because only deeds truly done for God’s glory will receive future heavenly rewards. If you are trying to or are receiving the payment and adoration of men, then maybe you are not LIVING FOR God’s Kingdom and FOR His glory.
Praising and Petitioning
Look at verses 5-8: "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you. 7 And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words. 8 So do not be like them; for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.”
The word for “meaningless repetition” is “battalogeô” which means: babbling, useless speech, empty words; “logos”, “word” is part of the verb.)
When you offer PRAY, (the word is proseuchomai- when you speak out toward God). It is important to note that Jesus is not forbidding public prayer; He is saying that our prayers emphasize the inner heart’s condition and motivation: the motivation should not be ritualistic or self-performing. Chanting, repeating the same phrases over and over again are meaningless to God in prayer. (You know that I like contemporary worship music, but I DO NOT LIKE songs that continually use the same phrase over and over again as if God doesn’t or can’t hear us. TO me, that is babbling; if I get bored with meaningless repetitions, imagine how it effects an elaborate and extravagant God who has GIVEN EVERY GOOD THING!)