Matt 6:1-15 Alms and Prayers CLICK TITLE FOR AUDIO
In this passage, Jesus instructed his Jewish disciples on the right motive and method for alms and prayers. Alms are voluntary gifts to aid the poor (Acts 3:2-3, Acts 10:2). You can tell that these are instructions to Jews by the context. Jesus spoke of “your Father” (Ex 4:22; v.1, 4-5, 8-9, 15), “the synagogues” (v.2, 5), and the “kingdom” (v.10, 13).
The wrong motive for almsgiving and praying was to be seen of men (v.1). Hypocrites would go so far as to sound a trumpet, stand in the synagogue or stand on the corner of a street to pray or to give something to the poor so that men would notice them (v.2, 5). That was their motive and their reward was solely the recognition they received from the men who saw them (v.1, 2, 5). The Lord did not reward them here or in heaven (v.1).
The right motive for almsgiving and prayer was for the Father. The right method, therefore, for almsgiving was in secret (v.4). The giver wasn’t even supposed to account for his gifts; so that the left hand wouldn’t know what the right hand was doing (v.3). The right method for prayer was also in secret (v.6), without vain repetitions (v.7), and with forgiveness for those who had trespassed against him (v.12). That way, the Father would reward him openly and forgive him (v.6, 14, 15).
The Lord instructed them on how to pray with what has been improperly titled “The Lord’s Prayer.” This is actually the “disciples’ prayer” for the Lord said, “After this manner therefore pray ye,” (v.9). They were to pray for:
§ Christ’s coming kingdom (v.10) – the kingdom of heaven, not the kingdom of God (Lk 17:20-21).
§ The Lord’s will (v.10) – like Jesus prayed in Matt 26:39, 42 for God’s will in the crucifixion.
§ Their daily bread (v.11) – Matt 6:31-34
§ Their forgiveness (v.12) – before the crucifixion, their forgiveness was conditioned upon them forgiving those that had trespassed against them (v. 14-15).
§ Protection from temptation (v.13) – See Job (Job 2:3); David (2 Sam 24:1, 10); Hezekiah (2 Chr 32:31)
§ Deliverance from evil (v.13) – Jn 17:15
There are suitable applications to Christians in this passage, as well.
§ When you give, give for the glory of God, not for your own glory (1 Cor 10:31).
§ When you pray, pray to the Lord and not to be praised by men (1 Thes 2:6).
§ Don’t use vain repetitions when you pray, like the Hail Mary.
§ You don’t need to pray the “disciples’ prayer” since it is for Jewish disciples of the Messiah.
§ Remember that your forgiveness from God is not based on your forgiveness of others but rather on the forgiveness God extended to you when you received Jesus Christ (Eph 4:32).