Sermon on the Mount
Let's first do an overview and place Mt 6 in context of the entire sermon...
What is Jesus' main thrust in Matthew 6 as compared with Matthew 5?
The focus in Matthew 6 is on righteousness practiced in the context of religion or worship.
Matthew 5 began with a description of who the righteous really are (the "be attitudes"), and then focused on righteousness citizens of the kingdom of heaven are called to live out in interpersonal relationships, anger, adultery, divorce, truthfulness, revenge and love. Righteousness lived out according to the tenets of Jesus would be a righteousness that surpassed that of the scribes and Pharisees and would also act as salt and light in the world.
What are the repeated or key words in Mt 6:1-18?
Reward, either positive or negative - 7 times
Father, God the Father - 9 times
Contrasting phrases: "When" and "but when" - 4 times and each identifies a new segment
What are the main topics covered in Mt 6:2-18?
Giving, praying and fasting all relate to righteousness that was being practiced by the religious leaders before men for men's approval (self righteousness) but which Jesus instructs is to be practiced before God's eyes Alone and for His approval Alone.
How do they relate to Jesus' introduction Mt 6:1?
Clearly Jesus warning to beware of practicing one's righteousness before men indicates that there were men doing just that. They would have no reward with the Father Who is in heaven. The question is "Why do you do what you do when you give, pray and fast?" What is your motive? Why is this important? Wrong motive means no reward from your Father. Paul reaffirmed this writing...
Note: KJV (based on the Greek manuscript referred to as Textus Receptus) begins "that ye do not your alms before men". Young's Literal (also from Textus Receptus) has "your kindness not to do". The modern translations (based on another manuscript most Greek scholars feel is more accurate) has the word "righteousness" instead of "kindness".
"Beware" is a command (present imperative) which means to make it your habit of being on guard from practicing your righteousness before men. Beware (prosecho) is a word that always warns of danger. It is not a call simply to notice or sense something, but to be on guard against it because it is so harmful. The word conveys the idea of holding one's mind away from the temptation to be praised by men...
In Proverbs the wisest man of his day explained that as smelting brings forth impurities, praise from men helps him rid his heart of all motives that are base, insincere and non-God glorifying, writing that...
You could title this lesson...
"Beware of Practicing your Righteousness Before Men"
and then subtitle it
"Check Your Motives!"
Let's look at the basic do's and don'ts of giving as taught by Jesus Mt 6:2-4:
To whom should we give (show mercy toward)?
The poor, those in need.
How should we give?
Do not sound a trumpet. If you do you are a hypocrite.
Don't let your left hand know what your right hand is doing (figure of speech - no one to know).
Giving is done in secret - Only your Father is to know.
What is your motive not to be?
Seeking honor from men.
What is the result of rightly motivated and performed giving?
Our Father will reward us
New Testament Scriptures on giving...
Acts 2:44-45, 4:32-35: How did the early church deal with the poor?
All things in common (not communal living as some teach)
Shared as anyone had need - even selling assets if they had to - this was sacrificial giving
Acts 4:32 They knew their possessions all belonged to God
Acts 4:33 There was not a needy person among them (the wealthy would sell land or houses, bring it to the apostles who would distribute it)
Note: The Church was "born" about 30AD and early on there were none in need. The Roman historian Tacitus and Jewish historian Josephus both record that great famines occurred about 45-46AD during the reign of Claudius. Luke's record supports that even as the early church spread out from Jerusalem this mindset of giving to the needy continued even in the "church plants"...
What and/or how much are you willing to sacrifice financially to meet the needs of others in the body of Christ? (see James 2:15-16, 1John 3:17)
2 Corinthians 8:1-15
What was the "motivation" for giving?
Grace of God (2Cor 8:1)
What was the attitude of the Macedonia churches to giving?
Attitude toward giving:
In midst of affliction
Gave beyond their ability
Begged to participate in support,
2Cor 8:3 = voluntary (not under compulsion);
2Cor 8:10-11 = had the desire
What was their financial status?
2Cor 8:3: What are 3 elements of the Macedonian's giving?
1) According to their ability = proportional or based on what they had
2) Beyond their ability = sacrificial
3) Voluntarily = not out of compulsion
2Cor 8:4: How did the Macedonian's view giving?
As a privilege
(NIV is easier to understand than NASB = "they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the saints.")
2Cor 8:5: What was a key to the generous giving of the Macedonians?
First (refers not to time but priority) gave themselves to the Lord and to us (2Cor 8:5)
Once you've truly surrendered your money is easier to relinquish
Generous giving follows personal dedication
2Cor 8:7: What estimate did Paul make concerning giving, as compared with more the showy gifts such as faith, utterance, knowledge, earnestness and love?
Giving was on the same level of importance
2Cor 8:8: What principles does Paul teach about giving?
It is not commanded
It is a test of the sincerity of our love
J Vernon McGee commenting on this verse writes that...
2Cor 8:9 What is our example for giving with liberality and joy?
Our Lord Jesus Christ - He was rich but became poor for us that we might become rich
2Cor 8:12: What is the important principle about giving and specifically the giver? How does Paul quantify the giving?
God is most concerned with the attitude of the heart, not the size of the gift
Whatever one has is the resource out of which they should give and this explains why there are no set amounts or percentages for giving anywhere stated in the NT
Believers do not need to go into debt to give, nor lower themselves to a poverty level. God never asks believers to impoverish themselves.
2Cor 8:13-15: What is one purpose of giving to our brethren?
The idea is that in the body of Christ some believers who have more than they need should help those who have far less than they need - this is God’s program for the relief of want in the church. He quotes about manna Exodus 16:14 emphasizing equality
2 Corinthians 9:5-15
2Cor 9:5: What does Paul explain about the giving?
Their gift should not be grudgingly given.
More accurately the gift should not be given with the attitude expressed by the Greek word pleonexia, which literally means "to have more" and is a strong desire to acquire more and more material possessions.
Note: This verse is somewhat difficult to understand in the NAS, specifically the phrase "not affected by covetousness" and thus the NIV paraphrases it "not as one grudgingly given" which is close to the idea Paul intends.
John MacArthur explains that this phrase is more literally...
2Cor 9:6: What is God's "mathematical" principle regarding giving?
Sow sparingly, reap sparingly
Sow bountifully, reap bountifully
2Cor 9:7 What is the attitude God desires in the giver?
Not grudgingly or under compulsion
God loves a cheerful giver
Giving is not based on demands of others, or according to any arbitrary standards or set amounts
Note: cheerful = hilaros > gives us English "hilarious" = denotes a happy, glad or cheerful state of mind and not one overcome with laughter or mirth, or one humorously affected)
2Cor 9:8 What does God promise to those who learn the grace of giving? (Note: Paul is continuing his describe the cheerful giver)
God will supply the cheerful giver with enough to meet his own needs and enough to give for every good deed.
Note: As regularly as the resources of the cheerful giver are taxed by his generous giving, they are replenished by divine grace) born of dependence on an all-sufficient God.
2Cor 9:9-11: What does the Scripture promise to the generous giver?
1) The act of giving (from the heart, not to please men but God Alone) will yield rewards in this life and the one to come!
(NIV "As it is written: "He [referring to the giver] has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor; his righteousness endures forever.")
2) God Himself will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness
3) You will be enriched so that you can give even more generously
2 Corinthians 9:12: What will be the result of giving to the recipients in Jerusalem?
As their needs are supplied they joyfully give thanks to God
2 Corinthians 9:13-14: What will the generosity of the Corinthians result in?
The saints in in Jerusalem will give God glory for their generosity proves the Corinthians are obedient to the gospel
The Jerusalem saints will pray for the Corinthians
The basis of genuine giving is emphasized once again - the surpassing grace of God (in the Corinthians)
2 Corinthians 9:15: What should be the prayer of every saint? What's the Source of every good gift?
Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift! (Of course ultimately our Savior and Lord Jesus Christ)
1 Corinthians 9:6-14
1 Corinthians 9:6-14: What is the main point in this segment about who we are to give to and why?
Paul and Barnabas had a right to expect material help from the Corinthians
They did not take it so there would be no hindrance to the gospel
Those who proclaim the gospel have right to get their living from this work
Galatians 6:6-10: Who should we give to?
Those who teach us the Word of God
Philippians 4:15-19: Why was Paul excited for the Philippians to give to his ministry?
Not for himself but their profit
He assured them God would supply their needs according to His riches in glory in Christ
Summary of principles of giving
Mt 6:2-3 Give to the poor, those in need
Mt 6:2 Give unostentatiously, not to be recognized or honored by men
Mt 6:3 Don't let anyone know (left hand <> right hand)
Mt 6:4 Giving is to be in such a way as much as possible that only our Father knows
Mt 6:4 Our Father will reward us for giving
Acts 2:44-45, 4:33 Willingness to share and sacrifice if necessary to meet needs of poor
Acts 4:32 Acknowledgement that all our possessions belong to God
2Cor 8:1 Motivation is grace of God
2Cor 8:2 Attitude of joy
2Cor 8:2 Spirit of liberality or generosity
2Cor 8:3 Voluntary (free will); sacrificial
2Cor 8:10-11 A desire to give
2Cor 8:4 Considered a privilege
2Cor 8:5 Generous giving follows personal dedication
2Cor 8:7 Paul elevated giving to the level of other more "showy" gifts
2Cor 8:8 Giving is not commanded
2Cor 8:8 Giving is a test of the sincerity of one's love for Jesus and His church
2Cor 8:9 Our example of giving = Jesus rich became poor that we might become rich
2Cor 8:12 God concerned with attitude of heart not size of gift (no set % in NT, no debt)
2Cor 8:13-15 Giving to brethren (haves to have nots) is God’s relief program
2Cor 9:5 Do not give grudgingly or with a desire to acquire (so that giving is a pain!)
2Cor 9:6 You will reap according to how you sow
2Cor 9:7 Don't give grudgingly or under compulsion, but cheerfully
2Cor 9:8 God will supply giver with enough to meet his needs and to give for every good deed.
2Cor 9:9-11 Giving from heart will yield rewards in this life and one to come!
2Cor 9:9-11 God will supply seed for sowing and increase harvest of righteousness
2Cor 9:9-11 God will enrich you so that you can give even more generously
2 Cor 9:12 Recipients will (or should) joyfully give thanks and glory to God
2 Cor 9:14 Basis of giving is surpassing grace of God
2 Cor 9:15 Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift
1 Cor 9:6-14: Those who proclaim gospel have right to get living from
Gal 6:6-10 We should give to those who teach the Word of God
Phil 4 Giving is for profit of giver, God supplies all our needs when we give
Let's first look at the principles of prayer in Mt 6:5-15...
Mt 6:5: How are we not to pray? What is your motive for praying in the presence of others? In Spanish one might ask "Que es su purposa?" What is your purpose? Why are you doing what you are doing?
Like hypocrites - actors - who stand and pray in synagogues and street corners
To be seen by men
Who are the hypocrites (the actors hiding behind masks so that one can't see who they really are within, in their heart) in the context of the time of Jesus' message and how does this relate to Mt 5:20?
The hypocrites were the scribes and the Pharisees
Jesus explains how their practice of righteousness was to be surpassed
Mt 6:5: What's the reward for hypocritical praying?
That men see you...that is the full reward
The praise of men instead of the smile of the Father
Luke 18:11 is the perfect example
Mt 6:6: Where should we pray? Who do we pray to? What result?
Go into inner room, shut door, pray to your Father Who is in secret
Your Father will repay you - If our real motive is to get through to God, He will hear and answer.
Mt 6:7: How should we not pray?
Do not use meaningless repetition - stock words, empty phrases
No ritualistic praying
Mindless repetition (not from the heart) - this principle could apply to some modern worship songs which are in the form of a prayer and which repeat a chorus over and over and over
God is not impressed by our multiplication of words but desires sincere expressions from the heart.
Who prays that way and why?
Gentiles (pagans or heathens) - the unsaved pray this way
Pagans pray this way because they think their deity will hear them if they pile up words!
Mt 6:8 Why don't we need to make meaningless repetition? Does this mean we cannot repeat prayer requests?
Your Father knows what you need before you ask Him
Jesus is not forbidding repetition of requests, but of repetition of words repeated thoughtlessly or as if they were a formula for successful prayer. What Jesus condemns is the spirit of distrust and fear of idol worshiping pagans which causes them to babble on and on to be certain their so called gods are sufficiently appeased or completely informed.
Why pray if your Father knows what you need?
We acknowledge our need.
We express our trust, humility and dependence on our Father for everything
In this way we communicate with Him (communion).
We don't come like a battering ram to break down the door of God's treasure house
We come as children who are greatly loved by their Father and Who desires to give them perfect gifts (not their greeds but their needs)
In a profoundly mysterious way, God also does things in answer to prayer that He would not have done otherwise (see James 4:2).
"The Lord's Prayer"
Mt 6:9-14: Let's look at Jesus' instructions to counter the meaningless prayers like pagans...
How do you know this was not actually the "Lord's Prayer", a prayer He prayed?
Mt 6:12 answers that question. Jesus had no need for forgiveness of debts, for He had none!
What does the phrase "in this way" imply?
That this prayer was never meant to be a ritualistic, rote prayer for regular recital but rather a guide for praying "in this way" or "after this manner". The problem with prayer by rote memory is that this kind of prayer becomes "meaningless repetition."
Jesus told the people listening to His teaching to "pray in this way," in the context of just having stated not to use meaningless repetition. So clearly Jesus is presenting a pattern for our prayers, not the only words to use in prayer. The "Lord's Prayer" was never intended to be used as a repetitious petition, but as the guide to how His followers should pray.
So often it has unfortunately been turned into a ritualistic recital that we mouth but do not genuinely pray from our heart. Such dead formalism is the very practice Jesus is warning them to beware of practicing! That is not to say that one could or should never pray this prayer...the question one must always address when praying this prayer is...
Certainly, from the heart, this is a valid, effective prayer. As discussed below it is even more effectively used as a guideline for praying.
Where do we see intercession (prayer for others) in this prayer guide?
Use of the plural pronouns "Our Father"... "give us our daily bread", etc
How many petitions does Jesus give? What is significant about the order?
First 3 directed to God
Last 3 toward human needs (Mt 6:11-13)
Note the brevity of this prayer. Prayers can be longer but the point is that they do not have to be long to be effective and pleasing to our Father.
What are Jesus' general guidelines for prayer? As an aside are these just suggestions or are they commanded?
In Mt 6:9 "pray" is which is a command from our Lord that we make this model for prayer be the habit of our (prayer) life.
1) Mt 6:9 Pray to the Father, in heaven, with focus on His Name - hallowed, holy, set apart. Begin with praise and worship of the Father. In context we praise Him because He is perfect (Mt 5:48), our perfect Father (and many of us have had earthly fathers far removed from "perfection" and are in need of a wonderful perfect Father. We praise Him because He sees what is done in secret, that he even rewards our righteous giving, praying and fasting, that He knows what we need even before we ask, and that He forgives us as we forgive others.
2) Mt 6:10 Pray for the Father's kingdom - we pray for advancement of God's cause (in one sense this prayer is for the return of our Lord and His millennial kingdom on earth when He reigns in righteousness)
3) Mt 6:10 Pray for the Father's will to be done - we willingly submit to and desire to see performed God’s will which is good, and acceptable and perfect (notes Romans 12:2).
4) Mt 6:11 Pray for our daily needs (physical but also spiritual food) - note God's interests are given priority (first 3 petitions are toward God)
5) Mt 6:12 Ask for forgiveness of our debts (spiritual debts, sin creating a debt to God for violation of His Law, the "wages of sin are death", the parallel passage in Luke 11:4 uses "sins"), in the context of a willingness to forgive others their debts against us.
6) Mt 6:13 Pray we will not be led into temptation (cf Luke 22:40) or testing but will be delivered from evil (to be kept from sin) or the evil one (Satan) - God Himself will not tempt anyone to evil but He does allow us to be tested and tried. This petition expresses a healthy distrust of our own ability to resist temptations or to stand up under trial and acknowledges complete dependence on the Lord for preservation.
Mt 6:13 Praise for God's kingdom, power and glory
Mt 6:14-15: What is the "heart" of the prayer that Jesus emphasizes by providing further explanation?
Forgiveness - if we do forgive others, our Father will forgive us, but He will not forgive us if we refuse to forgive others.
Note: Forgiveness with the Father depends on forgiveness among the members of the family of God. This is the forgiveness that affects fellowship within the family of God, not the forgiveness that leads to salvation. Refusal to forgive and be reconciled to other humans is sin which bars us from God's forgiveness. Prayer is agreement with God and must be in agreement with His character. To refuse to forgive is to violate God's claim that vengeance is His alone (Ro 12:19).
Luke 11:1-4: How does this parallel prayer help one understand the purpose of the prayer in Mt 6:9-13?
Jesus did not repeat the exact wording and the obvious conclusion is that neither prayer was ever intended by Jesus to be repetitively prayed using exactly the words in Mt 6:9-13. This emphasizes that it is a model prayer or pattern of prayer.
Hendriksen nicely summarizes the structure of this model prayer noting that...
In Luke 11:4 Jesus says "sins" which helps understand "debts" in Mt 6:12.
Let's look at parallel Scriptures for each petition in Jesus' "Model For Prayer"
1) "Our Father, Who is in heaven, hallowed be Thy name"
John 1:12-13: How does this passage relate to the Lord's prayer? Who is entitled to pray this prayer?
Only believers can call God "Father" because we are His children having received Jesus as Savior and believed in His Name (Jesus means "Jehovah saves")
Romans 8:14-17: How do you know if you are in the family of God and can call God "Father"?
We are led by the Spirit
We don't have a spirit of slavery which causes us to fear God
The Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God
Suffering for the sake of His Name is one of the marks of a genuine believer
Psalm 100:4: How should we enter into God's presence?
Here thanksgiving is added to praise as the way to come into His presence in prayer.
Blessing His Name
Exodus 33:18-19: What was Moses' greatest desire and should likewise be ours?
To see God's glory manifest
Proverbs 18:10: Why does the prayer begin with focus on God's Name? Remember that a Name stands for everything a person is and was how God revealed Himself in the OT (See study on the Names of God Name of the LORD is a Strong Tower: Summary)
His Name is like a strong tower
His Names describe His attributes which hold us safely when we are in need
Beloved, do you begin your prayers by focusing on the Father, by exalting His Name and by praising and thanking Him? If you do or do not, how might this affect the remainder of your prayer time?
2) "Your kingdom come"
Matthew 5:3 What did we learn about the Kingdom of heaven?
The kingdom is already the present possession of the poor in heart. Thus in that sense, the Kingdom has already come. And yet as we see below we are still to be seeking His Kingdom even though we have already entered at the time of salvation ("the poor in spirit').
1 Corinthians 6:9-11: Who is in the Kingdom? Who would even desire His kingdom to come or to be advanced?
Citizens of the Kingdom of Heaven - those with a righteousness that surpasses the scribes and Pharisees because the unrighteous will not inherit God's Kingdom
Some are deceived thinking they belong to the kingdom but they do not
All members of the Kingdom are former sinners who have been declared righteous (Justified), they have been washed (with the "water of the Word") and sanctified (set apart at the time of their reception of Jesus as Lord and Savior, made holy or set apart from the world and unto God for His kingdom work, one aspect of which is prayer for His Kingdom to come)
Acts 26:18: How did sinners gain entry into the Kingdom of Heaven?
The Gospel ("washing with the water of the Word") was spoken to them
God's Spirit supernaturally opened their spiritually blind eyes
They were given a new heart and desire to turn from darkness to light
From the dominion (power he rightfully had been given over unsaved sinners) to God (Father)
God granted those who turned forgiveness of sins and an inheritance (Kingdom)
They were sanctified (set apart) the moment they placed their faith in Jesus Christ
Matthew 6:33: What do children of the heavenly Father, those who now belong to the Kingdom of Heaven do, one part of which includes prayer? What is the priority?
Seeking first (priority) His Kingdom and His righteousness.
In this model prayer we see the focus begins with the Father and then moves to His Kingdom. We are continually to give His eternal Kingdom priority over anything and everything on this earth which is passing away.
3) "Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."
1 John 5:14-15: Why is it important to know the will of God when we pray?
So that we might pray according to His will, for in this way we know He hears us and that we have the requests we have asked from Him.
Knowing God's will is a key to answered prayer. Note that to pray according to God’s will is to pray in accord with what He would want, not what we would desire or insist that He do for us. We must take time to discern the will of God which is good and acceptable and perfect (Ro 12:2), which is found most accurately in the Word of God. The Holy Spirit will bring to our remembrance God's Word and thus will help us discern His Will.
But you still may be asking "I ask in His will and did not get the answer I asked for." J Vernon McGee explains what "praying in His will" means...
John 9:31: What will hinder our prayers for His will to be done?
Doing God's will (obedience) is crucial for effective prayer.
Luke 22:42: Who is our example of praying for the will of the Father to be done? When we don't know God's will in a given circumstance, what should we pray?
Jesus is clearly our example.
We should always pray that God's will be done, not ours.
4) "Give us this day our daily bread."
What is the shift in emphasis? For who?
From God to our needs
For self and others ("us") which indicates it is intercessory
What do we learn about our praying from the following?
Lu 11:5-10 - Persistence
Mt 21:22 - Faith
Jn 15:7 - Abide in Jesus, knowing and being obedient to His Word
Jn 15:16 - Ask in Jesus' Name
Ja 4:1-3 - Ask with unselfish, God honoring motives
5 And He said to them, "Suppose one of you shall have a friend, and shall go to him at midnight, and say to him, 'Friend, lend me three loaves;
6 for a friend of mine has come to me from a journey, and I have nothing to set before him';
7 and from inside he shall answer and say, 'Do not bother me; the door has already been shut and my children and I are in bed; I cannot get up and give you anything.'
8 "I tell you, even though he will not get up and give him anything because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will get up and give him as much as he needs.
9 "And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you.
10 "For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened.
"And all things you ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive."
"If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you.
"You did not choose Me, but I chose you, and appointed you, that you should go and bear fruit, and that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He may give to you.
1 What is the source of quarrels and conflicts among you? Is not the source your pleasures that wage war in your members?
2 You lust and do not have; so you commit murder. And you are envious and cannot obtain; so you fight and quarrel. You do not have because you do not ask.
3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
5) "And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors."
What do we learn about our the effect of praying for forgiveness from the following?
1Jo 1:9 - We must specifically confess all our sins (cf Ps 66:18)
Pr 28:13 - If we have unconfessed and unforsaken unforgiveness we will not prosper
Mt 6:14-15 - We must forgive to be forgiven (not an issue of salvation but fellowship - see below) Forgiveness is also a vital part of being in the will of God. If one is unwilling to forgive, then that one is not within God's will for asking anything in prayer.
1 John 1:9
If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
13 He who conceals his transgressions will not prosper, But he who confesses and forsakes them will find compassion.
14 "For if you forgive men for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
15 "But if you do not forgive men, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.
Note: Do not misunderstand what Jesus is saying here. He is not saying you will lose your salvation.
John MacArthur explains it as follows...
6) "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
What do the following teach about temptation?
Ja 1:13-14: God Himself does not lead us into temptation. Our flesh entices and carries us away.
1Cor 10:13: God will not allow us to be tempted or tested more than we can handle but will provide the way of escape that we might endure
Mt 26:40-41: We need to pray this because of our weakness of our flesh
Note: The way this Jesus phrases this petition might suggest that God is the blame for temptation which is not the case as shown in the Scriptures for study. However God will subject us to trials that may expose us to Satan's fiery missiles. What the petitioner is doing is asking God to protect him or her from falling when the temptation comes.
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, "I am being tempted by God"; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
1 Corinthians 10:13
13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.
40 And He came to the disciples and found^ them sleeping, and said^ to Peter, "So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?
41 "Keep watching and praying, that you may not enter into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."
7) "For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen."
Eternal glory belongs to God Alone and will be our prayer in heaven.
Note: This model prayer begins and ends with praise. The focus in the whole prayer is on God and this is critical to remember in prayer - it is about God, not us.
What is fasting?
The Bible defines fasting as a Christian’s voluntary abstinence from food for spiritual purposes. It is Christian, for fasting by a non-Christian has no eternal value since the discipline’s motives and purposes are to be God-centered. Fasting is voluntary in the sense that it is not to be coerced. Fasting is more than just the ultimate crash diet for the body, it is abstinence from food for spiritual purposes.
What principles for fasting are given in Matthew 6:16-18?
Don't fast like a hypocrite, putting on a gloomy face to impress men - that's your entire reward!
When you fast take care of your appearance so men don't know you are fasting - then your Father will repay you. Notice that Jesus says "when you fast" not "if you fast" indicating it is expected by our Lord. However, He does not command fasting. Thus fasting is a choice we each must make. It is a voluntary spiritual discipline.
Note: As with other the preceding two spiritual disciplines, fasting is directed toward our Father and the praise of men. When we fast, we must not do anything that will draw attention to our appearance or our hunger or our dedication. Fasting is between an individual and his God. It is interesting that fasting is mentioned in Scripture more times than even something as important as baptism (about 77 times for fasting to 75 for baptism). Most believers have been baptized but how many have ever fasted?
Isaiah 58:3-12: What do you learn about fasting?
v3 Their fasting was reflecting wrong heart attitude - fasting and sin are not compatible. They were trying to manipulate God.
v4 Their Fasting was ending in quarreling and strife
Isaiah admonished Israel for their fasting. They were doing what Jesus said not to do in Matthew 6. It was not for God that they were fasting, but for themselves. The Lord told Israel through Isaiah that if they would do what is right and then fast and call on Him, then He would answer them.
According to Isaiah 58:6-7, what is the fast God chooses?
The type of fasting that pleases God is not giving up food but giving up wickedness, oppression, enslavement, and binding of other people. Fasting was to encourage a person to respond positively to God’s commands. No religious observance has value for Jehovah that is not supported by a godly, law-abiding life, and compassion towards those in need.
In the Old Testament only one fast was commanded-the annual Day of Atonement (Lev. 16:29, 31). Only after the fall of Jerusalem were fast days instituted (Zech. 7:3, 5; 8:19). Ironically as God declares in Isaiah 58, there were many specific commands were not being followed.
What will happen if they fast with the right motives and actions?
The Lord would bless them with light, healing, righteousness, protection from trouble, and answered prayer (Isa 58:8-9).
This is how Israel saw their fasting...
In contrast this is how God saw their fasting...
This is the "fast" God desired..
The promised benefits of a carrying out the "fast" God chose...
Fasting: Reason for, frequency of or things accompanying
Occasion: Enemy invasion of Judah was imminent
National fast, proclaimed by the king
Associated with seeking the LORD (prayer) for His help in time of danger
Occasion: Exiles returning from Babylon to Jerusalem (dangerous trip)
Corporate fast proclaimed by leader
Associated with humbling one's self and seeking God (associated with prayer - entreaty)
Seeking God for safe journey
For sake of God's testimony that God would protect - God's honor at stake
Associated with sackcloth and humbling
Associated with prayer for one's enemies when they were sick! (as if they were his friends)
Have you ever fasted for your enemies?!
Extended fast (3 months),
Associated with mourning over future great tribulation for Israel (Daniel 10:1)
Partial (not a complete food and water) fast
Belief in God associated with fast
Outward symbol of inward contrition and humbling
Associated with calling on God earnestly (Jonah 3:8)
Occasion: Impending Judgment
Associated with repentance
Fasting, weeping, and mourning would give evidence of sincerity of the repentance.
Fast can be for self not God (self-deception - check motive).
These fasts were their idea not God's (they had set up fast days but not for God - ritual instead of reality)
Fasting because of mourning - waiting Jesus' return.
Have you every fasted waiting for your Bridegroom to return?
Every believer should be waiting for Him!
Associated with prayer
To discern God's will for leaders (Barnabas and Saul)
Associated with prayer
Associated with selecting elders
Fasting is associated with seeking the Lord in prayer for guidance or protection, either a personal fast or a called fast for a group of God's people. There is mourning associated with fasting. Deep mourning might produce an involuntary fast because of lack of interest in eating.
How many people do you know who regularly practice fasting? (Not that they are boasting about it but that they acknowledge this as something they do from time to time).
How many sermons have you ever heard on fasting?
Have you ever fasted?
What prevents you from fasting?
What situations in your own life could be impacted by fasting and prayer? (God's guidance, help, etc)
With all three spiritual disciplines note that Jesus does not say if you do these things, but when you do these things. Although we are not commanded to fast, it should be a normal part of the believer's life, part of one's practice of righteousness.