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Summary: The Disciples Prayer (PowerPoint slides to accompany this talk are available on request - email:

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Reading: Matthew chapter 6 verses 1-15.


Sir William Osler who was the professor of medicine at Oxford University,

• Had a class full of students before him;

• And wanting to emphasize the importance of observing details,

• He reached down to his desk and picked up a bottle containing 'urine',

• Holding it high, he announced:

"This bottle contains a sample for analysis.

It's often possible by tasting it

to determine the disease from which the patient suffers".

• Suiting action to words,

• He dipped a finger into the fluid and then into his mouth, and continued-

"Now I am going to pass the bottle around.

Each of you do exactly as I did.

Perhaps we can learn the importance of this technique and diagnose the case".

• The bottle made its way from row to row

• Each student gingerly poked his finger in and sampled the contents with a frown.

Dr Osler then retrieved the bottle and startled his students with the words:

"Gentlemen, now will you understand what I mean when I speak about details.

Had you been observant you would have seen that I put my

index finger into the bottle but my middle finger into my mouth!"

• They saw and yet they missed the point exactly;

• When it comes to the Lord’s prayer:

• I can’t help thinking many people are like those students;

• They know the prayer but miss the point.

• They know the words, the formula;

• But miss out on the meaning and relevance of it for their lives.

(1). The Context of the prayer (vs 1-9):

• In these verses, Jesus first of all gives us a general principle:

• Verse 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

The Message:

"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 theatre, but the God who made you won't be applauding.


• When it was launched in 1936.

• The Queen Mary was the largest ship ever to cross the oceans.

• Through four decades and a World War she served until she was retired,

• She was anchored as a floating hotel and museum in Long Beach, California.

• During the conversion, from passenger ship to hotel & restaurant;

• Her three massive smokestacks were taken off to be scraped down and repainted.

• But on the dock they crumbled.

• Nothing was left of the 3/4 inch steel plate from which the stacks had been formed.

• All that remained were more than thirty coasts of paint that had been applied over the years. The steel had rusted away.

• Over the years, and without anybody noticing;

• The smokestacks had become purely decretive and without substance!

In this section Jesus is warning his followers not to be the same:

• God wants us to be real, genuine, authentic, the real thing;

• Rather than outwardly impressive but inwardly hollow!

Having given us a general principle in verse 1:

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