The Right Reason

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Man do I love that song. Get’s me every time. And I especially LOVE the way that group sings it. Yes, it’s Pentatonix again. Such talent!
But you know what is interesting about that song – or rather – them singing that song? Only one of them is a Christian. Only one of them, the beat box guy. His name is Kevin Osoula – and he appeared in one of the Leadership Summits. He plays a cello while beatboxing. It’s pretty impressive. But I digress…
The rest of them do not believe what it is they are so passionately and beautifully singing. One of them is even Jewish.
It’s kind of like what I talked about last week. It’s very interesting how it is that what we do and say on the outside can be so contrary to what we really believe and are on the inside.  A fact that the Bible speaks volumes about and that Jesus addresses directly in today’s installment of The Sermon on the Mount.
If you are just joining us today, we are 5 weeks into a 7 week series covering one of the powerful sermons that Jesus gave. And 7 weeks really is not enough time, but we do what we can.
If you have missed any of this series, I highly recommend you watch them online – ESPECIALLY LAST WEEK. As I said last week, I believe that if you can grasp and live what Jesus talked about in the passage I covered, it would totally transform your life. I believe that so much that I gave you all little “mirrors” to carry around with you – business cards that tell you in a glance what you are really seeking. I hope that you didn’t just shove them out of sight.
If you didn’t get one last week, please raise your hand and an usher will bring one to you – and while we’re at it – if you didn’t get a bulletin and a pen…
And while you’re doing that, let me give a shout out to Ann Clayton because today is her birthday!!
Today we will be covering the first half of Matthew 6. Last week, we covered the second half of chapter 6. And the very first week, we covered the conclusion to Jesus’ sermon. So we are all kinds of out of order. But that’s ok, it will all come together in the end.
But before we get into today’s reading, I must keep my word and remind you of the all too important lesson we learned from the conclusion in week 1 that we must remember throughout.
Matthew 7
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
I don’t have time to go into the full explanation today, but the underlying understanding that this helps us have is that the only way to be wise is to have your foundation on the Rock, which is Jesus Christ. And if you DO have that foundation, it will be evident in your ability and desire to put into practice the words of God. In other words, OBEY.
REMEMBER
OBEDIENCE is an attitude of the heart that says I will pre-decide to be and do what God asks of me, no matter what.
So, let us today, before we go any further, do just that. Will you pray with me?
Father, we are your servants. We have gladly accepted your salvation and forgiveness, and we gladly make you our Lord and master. Enlighten us with your Word today so that we may know the right way to live and empower us to do your will not our own. Amen.
Now, if you actually have not accepted Jesus as your personal savior and made him lord of your life, you always have that opportunity.
Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
If you truly believe that Jesus rose from the dead, then you can believe everything else about Him, and you can make Him your Lord anytime you choose. It doesn’t have to be at the end of a service with a prayer led by the pastor. You can do it right now in your seat, or in your car on the way home, or in the shower tomorrow morning. The only location that matters is that it happens in your heart. But I encourage you to do it sooner rather than later.
But for now, let’s get into God’s Word together with an attitude of obedience! Are you ready?

We pick it up in Matthew 6:1.
Matthew 6
1 Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
2 So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
5 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 others. Truly I tell you, 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. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 This, then, is how you should pray:
     ‘Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
     your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts
     as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from the evil one.’
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
16 When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
What Jesus is doing here is similar to what He just did in chapter 5 with his statement about not abolishing the law but fulfilling it. There he made a statement (or a thesis), then listed practical and specific examples (or supporting arguments) of the point he was making. And here he does the same thing.
The thesis is this:
1 Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
At first glance, and if you remember the first part of His sermon…this might seem to be a bit contradictory.  Didn’t Jesus just say???
5:16
In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.
Doing good deeds and practicing your righteousness are effectively the same thing. So, why would He say to let others see you doing them and then say not to? Why in one statement he says that them seeing your good deeds will result in THEM glorifying God, but in the other it will cause loss of reward for you?  What gives?
Let me pause here for a second and point out something else. It is a tragedy that many will stop right here and just say that the Bible is full of contradictions and dismiss it. But do you know why they do that? Because they are not looking to know what God really says with the intent to obey, they are looking to find an excuse NOT to believe or obey. And you will always find what you are really looking for.
So, let’s approach God’s word assuming that it is true and not contradictory and see how we can resolve this perceived inconsistency. Generally the easiest way to do that is keep reading and look at the context.
And fortunately for us, Jesus does continue this statement with three examples of what he’s talking about.

Up First…
2 So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
One thing you may notice right off the bat about this and the other examples of praying and fasting is that they don’t really feel as applicable to today as earlier in the SOM when he was talking about lust and anger. It’s true. And it’s because the Christian church has been reading these examples for 2,000 years and it has become quite the norm that we are very careful not to be flashy about giving, fasting, or praying. In fact, we’ve gone so far that most Christians simply don’t give, fast, or pray at all just to be safe…
But seriously, each of these examples were specifically directed at practices that were quite common in that time and place, in that culture.  Thus, in order to figure out what it means for us, we must dig into the cultural context in which this was spoken. Now, with that said, there are many things in Scripture that do NOT require digging into ancient culture and language to fully understand, but when it comes to examples, illustrations, and parables – they most certainly do. Because just like today – Jesus and the apostles used things that were well understood by their audience as illustrations and examples to help people understand the less intuitive concepts of faith.
So, as you are reading God’s Word – make a note of this so that you don’t fall into the trap of trying to apply a strictly first century jewish cultural concept to our modern and very different world without translating it to our times first. And the way we do that is by looking past the particulars to find the underlying PRINCIPLE. Look for the WHY behind the WHAT.
Failing to do that has resulted in these passages being used to justify many erroneous practices that these examples were never meant to promote.
For instance, many people take this passage to indicate that when you give to God via the church, that it should be anonymous, to not put your name on it, so that your left hand doesn’t know what your right hand is doing.
There are couple of problems with this. One, that expression is not physically possible. It’s a proverbial statement about doing something spontaneously, without any special effort or show. The other problem is that this is talking about giving to the needy – not to the church. There are multiple examples in the New Testament where individuals are commended for their giving to the church – how could that happen if it was anonymous?
Jesus is actually critiquing something that was quite prevalent in his culture. The wealthy and the religious elite would make big shows about how generous they were to the poor (which was required by the Law of Moses). And since this was a day before cars, they had ample opportunity as the poor commonly lined the streets where everyone was walking begging for money. In our world today we rarely see beggars except maybe on some street corners.
Now, they didn’t exactly sound trumpets, but they would make a  big and obvious show about what they gave to the needy. And Jesus is saying that in doing that they have received exactly what they hoped to receive – the praise of men – and nothing more. Their giving was not done out of a heart-felt care for the needy nor a love of God, but out of a desire to look good in the eyes of others.
Jesus says it would be better to do it in secret so as not to intentionally draw attention to yourself.  But what He’s really getting at is not specifically in what manner you do it – but WHY you do it. He’s saying “You absolutely should make a habit of giving to those in need – but not because you want to be SEEN as a person who is generous, but because you actually ARE generous and you love these people like Jesus does, and so you want to truly help them.”
It’s not really about doing it in secret (thats checklist thinking) – because if all help for the needy was done in a way that no one could see – then nothing could actually be done!  It’s not about the WHAT. It’s about the WHY. It’s about doing things for the right reason.
A good example for us is our participation in the PIN ministry. You can’t help but be seen doing that. But that is not why we do it. We do it out of a true caring for the people we are serving. At least that’s what I hope is the case for those that go. Because if you are doing that for the purpose of being seen in order to keep up an image of caring about the needy – then congratulations, you have your reward in full. But if you are doing it out of genuine care, then it shouldn’t matter to YOU if people see you. You would do it either way. But if others do happen to see you, then guess what you are doing – shining a light! Basically, just do it right and let God determine the rest.
You dont have to worry about particulars if youre doing it with the right heart.

The difference that Jesus illustrates in all three examples is the difference between a person who is genuine and a person who is a hypocrite. In all three cases, he says “don’t be like the hypocrites” which comes from a Greek word that means “actor.” Don’t be like the people who are putting on a show so that people will think they are something that they are not.
Don’t be a hypocrite. Be genuine. Give to the needy because it’s the right thing to do in God’s eyes – and for that reason only.

I’m going to skip ahead to fasting because I want to spend more time on the prayer section.
16 When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 17 But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, 18 so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
This one, like the giving example, is very cultural and is quite foreign to our world. Fasting is not nearly as popular in modern day Christianity as it was in Jesus-Day Judaism.
In those days, fasting was, in human eyes, a very spiritual thing to do.
Many Pharisees fasted twice a week, usually on the second and fifth days of the week. They claimed those days were chosen because they were the days Moses made the two separate trips to receive the tablets of law from God on Mount Sinai. But those two days also happened to be the major Jewish market days, when cities and towns were crowded with farmers, merchants, and shoppers. They were, therefore, the two days where public fasting would have the largest audiences.
And when they did this, like in the giving they would make a big show of it to be admired by all the people. Some would even put on sack cloth and put ashes on their head to show just how unworthy they were. But it was all a show, and Jesus calls them what they are: hypocrites – actors. They were not interested in honoring God, but in honoring themselves.
And Jesus says, don’t do that. Instead, fast in such a way that your attention will be drawn to God, instead of other’s attention being drawn to you.
Since we are generally not big on fasting in the modern church, and especially not in this church, an equivalent offense for us would be in how we serve. It’s probably the most visible-to-others thing that we now do in the church. And though I don’t see a lot of it here at Reality, in other churches I have been to,  some people go to extremes to make sure people know just how much they serve the church. They do what they do, not for God, but for the recognition and gratitude from other people.  And when that happens, it’s really no different than what these ancient people did with fasting.
So, just like in the giving to the needy example, Jesus is illustrating that the WHY is more important than the WHAT.

Now let’s talk about prayer…
5 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 others. Truly I tell you, 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.
And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Once again, Jesus is addressing a specific thing that was being done in his culture. This was another thing that the religious elite would often do. In that culture, public prayer was very common and not just for pastors. It was actually prescribed. Remember this was a religion-based society. Their religion was their life, not just relegated to a few hours one day a week. So, several times a day, each person was required to recite a certain prayer. It’s not unlike what the Muslims do in some of the countries in the middle east. Each person would approach it, like we do today, with one of three attitudes:
sincerity – they truly meant what they were praying,
indifference – just going through the motions,
or pride – these were the ones that made a show of it and would even go on and on with their eloquent and elaborate prayers so that others would see just how godly they are. In effect they were doing just like the singers in the song we started with – singing all the right words for OUR ears while their hearts sing a different tune to God’s ears.
And while we don’t all pray that much in the general public anymore, there is plenty of public praying going on in church. I do it several times on a Sunday, and I often pray with people out loud. Is that wrong?  Does God hear those prayers?
Of course He does.  Jesus himself prayed out loud several times as recorded in the gospels, and Paul records some of his prayers in his letters. Again, it’s not entirely about the manner. Jesus is not saying that ALL prayers should be private and you should NEVER pray in public.
He’s simply saying that you should pray for real and not for show. So, whether you pray publicly or privately – pray from the heart.
The words to focus on in this are not about how they prayed, but why they prayed.
The hypocrites pray to be seen by men.
We should pray to be heard by God.

SUMMING IT UP
Three examples, now stripped down to their principles should now make it clear what Jesus meant by
1 Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.
He didn’t say “Be careful not to practice your righteousness in front of others.” And stop. Really, half of that could be left out and might make the point clearer. “Be careful not to practice your righteousness to be seen by others.” For the purpose of being seen by others.
He’s not advocating for hiding right after he told us to let our light shine. He’s saying do it for the right reason. Do it for an audience of one!!

And right there, this talk could be done, and we could all go home a little early. After the last few rather long talks, I thought you might like a break.
But, we can’t because Jesus decided to put THE PRAYER in the middle of these three rather straight forward examples. It’s such a familiar passage that I was originally planning to just gloss over it, but I made the “mistake” of actually taking a closer look and when I did,
God grabbed my brain and my heart and wouldn’t let go until I had exhausted my resources studying it and then He showed me something about this that I had never seen or thought of before.
So, I had to run it by Sandy just to make sure I wasn’t crazy.
I also thought about not including it, but then I “happened” to read this in Isaiah:
Isaiah 58:1
Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
I know God was speaking to me, and so I must obey.  So, here comes a sermon within the sermon that will likely make you forget what the rest of the sermon was about. I’m about to give you a look at the Lord’s Prayer like you’ve probably never heard before. So, let’s get to it.

In the midst of the example about prayer, after telling us to pray in secret and to not babble on, he says this.
9 This, then, is how you should pray:
(The “then” is like a therefore – He’s saying this is how you should pray in light of what I just said)
     ‘Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name,
10 your kingdom come,
     your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us today our daily bread.
12 And forgive us our debts
     as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And lead us not into temptation,
     but deliver us from the evil one.’
The last bit that is commonly included in the prayer “For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever and ever, amen” is not found in the earliest manuscripts, so it may have been an addition by some later scribes, and is thus left out of most translations.
I’d also like to point out a couple of ironies about this beloved passage before digging deeper.
  1. It is commonly referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer”, which is ironic, since it wasn’t Jesus praying, but showing his disciples how they should pray. It rightly should be called “The Disciple’s Prayer.”
  1. Also, it is commonly recited verbatim as a public prayer over and over, which is ironic since Jesus gives this example clearly as how to pray in private right after knocking the pagans who were in the habit of not only aimless babbling but of repeating a memorized prayer over and over.
Jesus was not scripting a prayer that we should all recite in public on a daily basis, he was showing us how to talk to God in private, which is consequently something many people have trouble with because we don’t understand this prayer.
So, let’s look a little closer.
Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name,
Hallowed is not a word we often use anymore. It’s from a Greek word that means “to make holy, set apart as holy.” It’s a very heartfelt honoring of the Lord by lifting up His name. In the Old Testament, God is called by 19 different names that all reveal something about His character.
EL, ELOAH (God, mighty and strong)
ELOHIM (God, Creator mighty and strong)
EL SHADDAI (God, Almighty)
YHWH-JIREH (also Jehova Jirah) – The Lord will provide
YHWH-RAPHA – The Lord who heals
El ELYON – Most High
EL OLAM – Everlasting God
And so on. Here’s a link for all of his names: http://www.gotquestions.org/names-of-God.html
To say “hallowed by your name” is saying “you are the name above all names.” God above all gods. King above all Kings. Lord above all Lords. This is starting a prayer with putting God in His proper place – so far above me, yet so close like a Father.
your kingdom come,
There are a lot of different opinions about this, whether it’s referring to the kingdom being here and now, or to the kingdom yet to come. I think it’s a bit of both. I think this is a statement that represents a yearning in our hearts to be with God – to live in His kingdom, to be under His good and righteous rule, and to be done with the struggle between our sin and spirit natures. It’s an expression of our longing to be home with God.
your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
This is both a submission of the personal will – Father, not my will but yours – but also a desire of the heart for God’s ways to rule here on earth as they do in heaven. In heaven, God’s will is always done and it’s perfect and blissful. We should want his will followed here on earth too, and starting with me.
A little side note about God’s will…
It is clear in Scripture that there are different kinds of God’s will, just like there is for us humans. There is the will of desire – as in this is what God desires to happen, but he will not force it. Such as God desires all people to be saved, but He won’t force it. And God has a desire for how you should live your life, but He won’t force it. There is also the will of decree – as in “this is going to happen.” Prophecy is like that, and so are some other things.
To say “your will be done” is to desire ALL of His will to be done – especially in me. It’s really another way of saying your kingdom come, but it’s also a personal promise to do His will even while we wait.
As you can see these first few lines make it very clear God’s high position, our desire to be with Him, and our submission to his rule.
After this establishment of the proper relationship between us and God, we get into requests.
Give us today our daily bread.
This is less of an asking for provision as it is an acknowledgment of where our provision comes from. The bread represents all that we need, and the daily indicates contentment with just enough for now because we trust He will provide again tomorrow. It is an expression of trust in God, and contentment with what is given.
And forgive us our debts as we also have forgiven our debtors.
The next thing we ask for is forgiveness of our debts, or our sins, but this request is hitched to a very important claim. We are asking God our Father to forgive us for the sins we have committed against Him just as we have already forgiven the sins others have committed against us.
It is clearly an important point because Jesus hammers it home again at the end of the example prayer.
14 For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
This is not contradictory to the fact that only faith in Christ will save you. He is not saying you are saved by your ability to forgive others.
Ephesians 2
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.
Your sins are not forgiven BECAUSE you have forgiven other people.
You are ABLE and EXPECTED to forgive others BECAUSE YOU have been forgiven.
There’s a great parable about this that is included in the Anchoring Deeper, because this is a very important concept to get.
Jesus takes forgiveness very, very seriously. He literally died to bring us forgiveness, so He doesn’t take it lightly when I think another person’s sins against me are worse than my own sins against God.
I’ll probably do a Wednesday night service on just this topic sometime. But we need to move on.
And lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from the evil one.’
Probably one of the most misunderstood statements in the Bible. It is a tough one. It’s one of those that you really have to look at in the context of many other Scriptures, but I’ll give you the very short version:
It is not asking God to refrain from tempting us to sin. God does not do that.
James 1:13
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone.
It’s an odd Greek way of asking God to keep us from being tempted to sin (which He does NOT promise to do – but it doesnt hurt to ask), AND adding a request to deliver us  if & when the evil one does come a tempting (which God does promise to do).
Ultimately it’s a recognition of my own inability to always do what is right and asking God to help me. And it’s not just asking, it’s resting on the promise:
1 Corinthians 10:13
And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.
That’s a quick zoomed-in run-through that may or may not be all-that-new to you. It wasn’t for me. But the real shocker came as I was zooming back out…
So let’s do that, and I’ll also give it to you in a bit more descriptive and modern language based on what I just shared with you…
Our Father who is in heaven high above us and yet so close, you are the name above all names, I praise and honor you.
May your kingdom come now, I want to be with you.
May your perfect will be done in all the earth just as it is in heaven, and may it start with me.
Lord, You are my provider and I am content with all you give me.
Lord, please forgive me as I fail you, and because you HAVE forgiven me – I also forgive others.
Lord, please keep temptations away from me because I am week,
And when I AM tempted, I ask and I trust that you will give me a way out.
Do you see what is happening here? Do you see what this prayer is saying to God? It’s all about HIM.
It’s all about seeking after Him, His Kingdom, and His righteousness.
  • We honor Him.
  • We yearn for His Kingdom.
  • We submit to His will.
  • We ask for forgiveness for the times we fail Him,
  • and we ask for help to not fail Him again.
  • And sandwiched between all of that is less of a request and more of a statement of our trust in and gratitude for His provision.
I became personally convicted as I was studying this in preparation for this talk, because this is not how I pray. I get parts of it right, but most of the time I miss the underlying theme and end up asking for a lot of things that are not what He’s talking about here.
Sure, I may be asking for help in preparing the message or help with a decision and such – which are not bad, and God wants me to seek Him in these things, but what He really wants is my heart.
He wants my heart to honor Him, to yearn for Him, to live for Him, and when my heart does that, it will naturally follow that the thing I am most concerned about is making things right with my Creator and desperately asking Him to keep me from failing Him again.
And then as I pondered this some more, it occurred to me that though my verbal prayers do not always reflect this pattern – as I looked into my own heart I realized that this is actually the constant prayer of my heart!
As I went over each line in my mind, I realized that what Jesus is describing here is less about how to construct a prayer, and more about what the heart of a believer should look like.
This prayer is a depiction of the heart of one who seeks first His Kingdom and His righteousness.
 
This is the heart of one who has their foundation in the rock.
 
This is the heart of one whose treasure is in heaven and has no worry because God is their provider.
 
This prayer is Jesus telling his followers what a true disciple’s heart looks like to God.
Our Father in heaven, – my mind is fixed on you
hallowed be your name, – I honor you
your kingdom come, – I seek your Kingdom
your will be done, – I submit to your will
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread. – I gratefully accept your provision
And forgive us our debts – forgive me for failing you
as we also have forgiven our debtors. – as I have done likewise for others because you have forgiven me
And lead us not into temptation, – I am weak and do not want to fail you
but deliver us from the evil one. -Help me honor you with my life.
And if you really think about it, all of this can be contained in a single thought, in a single frame of mind.
This is the heart and mind of one who walks humbly with God,
whose thoughts are fixed on Him,
who delights in His word,
who has an attitude of obedience.
This is the heart of a true child of God.
And it is this kind of heart that Jesus is speaking of throughout the Sermon on the Mount as he criticizes all the outward efforts the people were using to APPEAR righteous, He’s showing us right here what kind of heart it takes to actually BE righteous. It’s all about the heart. It’s the theme of the whole thing. This faith is not about outwardly following checklists. It’s about what is in our hearts. Because God really only cares about our hearts.
1 Samuel 16:7
People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.
God created us this way, and He knows that appearances mean nothing. It’s the heart that matters. The heart is the real person. That’s what the whole Sermon on the Mount is about.
And I believe that Jesus put this prayer right in the middle of it on purpose. The whole time Jesus is railing against all the wrong ways the people had been trying to appease God by outward compliance to the law while their hearts were not in it. In doing so he addressed several specific issues, but here He gives us something better. Here he tells us what our hearts should be saying to God.
That’s what real prayer is. It’s not some list of things you say just with your mouth. Real prayer is your heart talking to God. And this prayer, I believe, is Jesus giving us a picture of the kind of heart that God wants in us.
But the even more amazing part is that this is not something that we are supposed to try to live up to, or conjure up on our own. I said this was what I find in my heart not to boast as if I have achieved something. I say it because it is something I have been GIVEN!! I believe it is something that we get free of charge when we make Jesus Christ our Lord.
It’s not something we have to do, it’s something we get have!!
When you give Him your heart, He literally changes it so that you can say with all honesty from your heart…
     ‘Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name,
     your kingdom come,
     your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven.
     Give us today 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 the evil one.’
It’s not saying you are perfect. That’s why you ask for forgiveness. It’s not saying you are super mature and have all things figured out and mastered. It’s not even saying that you feel this way all of the time. But it IS saying that in your inner being, this is what your heart truly desires – even if you don’t know yet how to actually live it.
If this is truly your heart underneath it all, then make this your private prayer on a regular basis – not repeating the exact words without any real meaning attached, but pray this with your heart in your own words, and God will start to mold you so that your outside starts to look like your renewed inside, but it won’t be for show. It will be genuine because you cant tell God honestly Your will be done in me without it actually starting to happen!
But if you look down deep and realize that you can’t say this prayer honestly, and the thought of trying to make yourself feel this way seems impossible – it’s because it is impossible. You can only have this kind of heart when you give your heart to the only heart changer – Jesus Christ – so he can make it new. This is the new creation.
This truly is the DISCIPLE’S PRAYER. It’s the heartfelt prayer that only a true disciple, a true follower, a true believer can make.  Because only a true believer is given this kind of heart. Its not a task, its a gift!
And with this gift of the right heart comes the right reasons.
The whole Sermon on the Mount is Jesus pointing out how we do so many things for the wrong reasons.
  • To be seen by others.
  • To be self righteous.
  • To have things our own way.
And He tells us, don’t do that. Do things for the right reasons.
But the catch is that we cant. We cant have the right reasons because we dont have the right heart. Which is exactly what Jesus is showing us here.
Its exactly the same point that the conclusion makes about the foundation in the sand vs the rock.
If your foundation is in the sand, you do not have the right heart, you do not have the right reasons, and all your efforts to satiate God are in vain.
But if your foundation is in the rock, you have the right heart (because it was given to you), and you will therefore have the right reasons as you obey, and your actions will be pleasing to the father and your house will stand.
In other words…
Key Concept
NOTHING YOU DO WILL BE RIGHT, IF YOUR HEART IS NOT RIGHT.
And even more key is..
YOUR HEART IS NOT RIGHT UNLESS YOU GIVE IT TO JESUS.
Thats what Jesus is doing here. Thats what his life, and his whole message was about. In fact, that is what the WHOLE BIBLE, ALL OF CREATION, and ALL OF HUMAN HISTORY are about. Pointing us to the need for a savior and telling us who He is.
And when you finally realize that and surrender your heart to Him, He gives you a new heart that beats with these words through no effort of your own:
     ‘Our Father in heaven,
     hallowed be your name,
     your kingdom come,
     your will be done,
     on earth as it is in heaven.
     Give us today 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 the evil one.’
It’s no wonder someone added..
For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever! Amen!
Let’s Pray

I bet you’ll never think of that prayer the same way again. I know I won’t.
Do you know what it is?
It’s is another mirror. It’s a mirror that shows us where our hearts stand.
There are a lot of these in Scripture. It even says so…
Hebrews 4
12 For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires.
It exposes the truth about ourselves – it’s a mirror for the soul.
Perhaps it has exposed some truth to you about yourself. I know it does to me all the time.
Perhaps you realize that you cannot say that prayer and mean it from the heart. If that is the case, then you don’t have the new heart that only Jesus can give you. Maybe you’ve even said a prayer before and thought you were good. Maybe you’ve been in church a long time and done all the right things. None of that matters if you can’t say that prayer honestly, because salvation is a heart matter. Nothing you can do on the outside will matter if your heart is not right. Only man cares about the outside. The Lord looks at and judges the heart. That’s what this whole Sermon on the Mount is about. It’s not about external compliance with the rules. It’s about an internal shift that happens when you make Jesus Christ your Lord. Not just your sin-forgiver. Not just your get-out-of-hell-free ticket. You’re not just asking Him to come into your heart, you’re asking Him to take over.
Only then will you be able to honestly even call God, Father, much less claim you want His will to be done.
So, I invite you to make that decision right now. Why wait?