Sermon for February 6, 2022

The Underlying Layer of Prayer

Matthew 6:5-15 TLV “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Amen, I tell you, they have their reward in full!  (6)  But you, when you pray, go into your inner room; and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, shall reward you.  (7)  And when you are praying, do not babble on and on like the pagans; for they think they will be heard because of their many words.  (8)  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask Him.  (9)  “Therefore, pray in this way: ‘Our Father in heaven, sanctified be Your name.  (10)  Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.  (11)  Give us this day 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 others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  (15)  But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.

(Mat_6:5. Standing. —The ancient practice, alike in the Jewish and in the early Christian church. That they may be seen of men.—This was the wind that set the windmill a-work (Trapp).

Mat_6:7. Use not vain repetitions = “do not babble.”

Mat_6:11. Our daily bread.—The Greek word translated “daily” occurs only in the Lord’s prayer here, and Luk_11:3; it is not found in any classical author. The rendering of the E. V. “daily” as nearly as possible represents the probable force of the word, which is strictly (bread) “for the coming day,” i.e. for the day now beginning. Others render “bread for the future,” taking bread in a spiritual sense; others, following a different etymology, translate “bread of subsistence.” Bread, primarily the bread on which we subsist (see Prof. Light-foot in appendix to his work. On a Fresh Revision of the N. T.); subsistence as distinct from luxury; but the spiritual meaning cannot be excluded, Christ the Bread of Life is the Christian’s daily food (Carr).

Mat_6:12. As we forgive.Have forgiven (R.V.) as a completed act, before we begin to pray. The temper that does not forgive cannot be forgiven, because it is, ipso facto, a proof that we do not realize the amount of the debt we owe. (Plumptre). So much stress does our Lord put upon this, that immediately after the close of this prayer, it is the one point in it which He comes back upon (Mat_6:14-15), for the purpose of solemnly assuring us that the Divine procedure in this matter of forgiveness will be exactly what our own is (Brown).

Mat_6:13. Evil.—The evil one (R. V.). The Greek may grammatically be either neuter or masculine, “evil” in the abstract, or the “evil one” as equivalent to the “devil.” Dean Plumptre says, “the whole weight of the usage of New Testament language is in favour of the latter meaning.” Others, however, favor the neuter. Dean Mansel says, “the neuter is more comprehensive and includes deliverance from the evil thoughts of a man’s own heart and from evils from without, as well as from the temptations of Satan” (Speaker’s Commentary). For thine is the kingdom, etc.—Omitted in R.V. The whole clause is wanting in the best MSS. and in the earlier versions, and is left unnoticed by the early Fathers, who comment on the rest of the prayer (Plumptre). Scrivener pleads earnestly for its retention.)[1]

                The Gospel of Matthew paints the ministry of Jesus consistently, that Jesus is more focused on individual relationships more than corporate gatherings of people who may be:

  1. Unified around the same set of ideals (even though these ideals may be exclusive rather than inclusive)
  2. Controlling all aspects of worship to personal appetites of religious observance but lacks the true spirit of worship
  3. Celebrating internally while the world outside the place of worship is dying.
  4. A production like that of play or a movie that is simply there to entertain the majority within where the underlying theme is lost in pageantry.
  5. Feeds the appetites within and judges the appetites outside.

The practices of the synagogues are something to really investigate.  Ever since the diaspora of a people who would later be called “Jews” began some 750 years before where Jesus is speaking in Matthew’s Gospel.  The “Jews” (by which is a name given to them by Babylon that kind of stuck), could not go south to Judah (which would later be called Judea as a Babylonia province, hence people who live there are “Ju’s” or Jews) because Israel and Judah had been fighting with each other since the split of Israel into two kingdoms under Rehoboam in 930 BCE.  So, they had to go north past the Assyrians to Greek territory or further northwest towards the Romans, or east towards Babylonian territory, or even further east to the Mede and Persian territories (ever wonder how a group of wisemen from the east knew of a great prophesy of the birth of a great King?)  Thus, they needed places to worship, and it began to settle into regional places of worship called a synagogue. 

What worship had become in the synagogue:

  1. Remembering the good ol’ days
  2. Blaming “others” for their problems
  3. Political extremism
  4. A place for people who had money to give
  5. As Jesus says, a place full of hypocrites.

Last week we talked about the people who liked to “toot their own horn” to be recognized by the masses but Jesus says to not to desire the recognition.  Jesus continues this “private” conversations with others on the same level as our private conversations or prayers to God and he is consistent with this idea (Verse 6).

[1] The Preacher’s Complete Homiletical Commentary. 1892. New York Funk & Wagnalls Co., -96.

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