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Summary: The importance of authentic prayer and fasting in growing in relationship with God

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(adapted from Southeast Christian Church’s series: “Living a Life of Integrity”)

SERIES: “WORDS OF WISDOM FOR KINGDOM LIVING”

TEXT: MATTHEW 6:5-18

TITLE: “EXAMINE YOUR MOTIVES”

INTRODUCTION: A. I recently ran across a letter written by a father who wanted to apologize to a certain

young man for not allowing him to marry his daughter:

Dear Marty,

I have been unable to sleep since I broke off your engagement to my daughter. Will you please

forgive and forget?

I was much too sensitive about your Mohawk haircut, tattoos and pierced nose. I now realize

motorcycles aren’t really that dangerous, and I really should not have reacted that way to the

fact that you have never held a job.

I am also very sure that some other very nice people live under the bridge in the park, too. Sure

my daughter is only 18 and wants to marry you instead of going to Harvard on full

scholarship. After all, you can’t learn everything about life from books.

I sometimes forget how backward I can be. I was wrong. I was a fool. I have now come to my

senses and you have my full blessing to marry my daughter.

Sincerely,

Your future father-in-law.

P.S. Congratulations on winning the lottery!

B. Last week, we started looking at the section in the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus challenges

us to be sure that we what we do with honesty and sincerity.

--That we should do what we do in order to gain God’s approval instead of prestige and approval

from other human beings

1. We looked at Mt. 6:1-4 last week

--This week we continue with vss. 5-18

2. Jesus raises the main question: “Who is your audience?”

a. Are you motivated by the approval of men or the applause of God?

b. The title of this morning’s message: EXAMINE YOUR MOTIVES

3. Jesus starts the whole section with this statement in Mt. 6:1 – ““Be careful not to do your

‘acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no

reward from your Father in heaven.”

C. In our passage this morning, Jesus warns us against praying to impress others.

--He challenges us to pray with sincerity. Jesus says, “Pray to be heard by God, not to

be seen by others.”

1. Remember that the Sermon on the Mount is Jesus’ instruction for those who would

claim to be Christ- followers.

--If you’re going to claim Him as your King, you need to live according to the

principles of His Kingdom

2. Kingdom living is righteous living

a. In Matthew chapter 6 Jesus teaches us that living a righteous life is not just a

matter of what we do, but also involves why we do it.

b. Jesus is not just concerned with us doing the right things, he wants us do the

right things for the right reasons.

--For Him the “why” is just as important as the “what”.

3. Kingdom-living is motivated by seeking God’s approval.

a. In Matthew 6 Jesus gives at least 3 areas where we need to examine our motives

to make sure we’re a living to express love to God, not to impress others.

b. Last week we looked at the first one: giving

c. This week, we’re going to look at the other two: Jesus teaches us to pray and

fast with the proper motivation.

I. AUTHENTIC PRAYER IS PRACTICED IN PRIVATE (NOT PERFORMED IN PUBLIC)

--Mt. 6:5-6 – “And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the

synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward

in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.

Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”

A. Notice that Jesus talks about praying the same way He talks about giving

1. He says, “WHEN you pray…” not “IF you pray…”

2. Jesus expects that those who claim to be Christ-followers will practice an authentic prayer life

B. Jesus warns against prayer that is motivated by public recognition and a desire to impress others.

1. Don’t misunderstand: The problem is not praying in public, it’s praying in public to be seen and

noticed by other people.

2. If we’re not making time to talk to him privately, then we shouldn’t be praying publicly.

a. If you pray in pubic when you don’t pray privately people might think you have a great prayer life.

b. Jesus says that particular practice is hypocritical.

1). Remember from last week: a hypocrite was an actor who changed roles by changing masks

2). In its biblical application, it’s pretending to be someone in public that you are not in private.

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