Prepare to Listen. Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.
Prayerfully Read Matthew 6:5-15
5And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. 6But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. 7When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven
11Give us this day our daily bread.
12And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And do not bring us to the time of trial,
but rescue us from the evil one.
14For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Prayer is the second spiritual practice Jesus teaches about. Once again he begins with how not to pray: “do not be like the hypocrites” who make sure to be seen in synagogues and on streets. Rather like some Christians who want to be seen and heard when praying in restaurants, or those who make long prayers in church perhaps thinking they will be heard for their many words and biblical references. Perhaps we foolishly think others will see us as mature Christians if we do. Instead, it reveals our immaturity and ignorance of Jesus’ teaching.
Praying, said Jesus, should be done in secret, that is, God’s eyes only. He showed us how to pray this way teaching a prayer that is as simple and unimpressive as prayers can get. Yet, it’s few words (Matthew’s version in the NRSV has only 57 words that take barely 30 seconds to read) are as profound as prayers ever get. They’re common and understandable words, no need for a dictionary, but deeply meaningful, focused on what really matters—God’s kingdom, God’s will, basic human needs, like daily bread.
It’s a basic need not only for the world’s hungry. I pray for them. But I also pray for daily bread for myself, not because I’m in need, but because I don’t want to consume more than what I need for each day. Perhaps if we took the prayer for our daily bread seriously, there would be fewer hungry people in the world and fewer people with serious eating disorders because they over-eat or under-eat.
What words caught your attention today as you read these familiar words? Live with them today.
Respond in Prayer
Our Father in heaven, give us this day our daily bread, no more and no less. Amen.
Live Obediently. Pray to be seen only by God.
Despite having frequently read and taught Matthew's Gospel, preparing these daily devotions, taking that second gaze, has surprised me with newness.