As we continue our review of Matthew 6 to help us prepare for Christmas, recall that in the first four verses Jesus has taught us that we should help the needy in secret so that we will not be like the hypocrites who help the needy only to impress people with their own goodness. In these verses, Jesus takes a step further in this direction, teaching us to pray in a way that is acceptable to God, and not as the hypocrites do it just to impress men. Take a look at these verses in particular:
This, then, is how you should pray:
“‘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.’
Isn’t this amazing? Jesus wants us to recognize God’s glory, pray for God’s will to be done, then for our own needs (not just our own wants) and then to ask Him to forgive us conditioned upon our forgiving other people. Wait; slow down… did you get that? And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors. This is a conditional statement that we are being taught to ask God for! Finally, we are to ask that God deliver us from temptation.
Jesus, then, has taught us to pray selflessly. While teaching us to pray selflessly, He has also taught us that we must forgive others:
For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.
So to sum up what we have seen so far, Jesus came to teach us humility, selflessness, and to forgive others, and as counter-intuitive and counter-cultural as these things are, we still celebrate His birth all of these years later. You know what? We’re only just getting started; there’s more to come tomorrow!