Matthew 6:5-18 (Beware of Practicing Your Righteousness Before Men; Prayer and Fasting)

Mat 6:5-8     Is all prayer good?  What prayer does Jesus condemn in Mat 6:5?  What examples do we find in Scripture of someone who prayed this way?  See Mar 12:38-40, Luk 18:11-12.  In contrast, how are God’s true servants to pray?  See Mat 6:6.  What examples do we have in Scripture of those who prayed this way?  See Mat 14:23, Act 9:40, 10:9.  What is the difference in purpose of these two manners of praying?  Note: one is to be seen and heard by men, the other is to be seen and heard by God.  What sort of prayer does Jesus condemn in Mat 6:7?  What modern examples of such prayer do we find today?  Think: the Rosary, St. Jude Novena, Muslim prayers, Jewish prayers, Buddhist prayers, Hindu prayers, etc…  For what purpose does Jesus say that people pray using meaningless repetitions?  See Mat 6:7.  Consider: If mindless repetition of words is what attracts God’s attention, why not just play back a recording?  What does such praying indicate about the way a person views God and his relationship to Him?  Cf. 1Ki 18:26-29.  Why is it unnecessary for those who view God as their Father to attract His attention with vain babblings?  See Mat 6:8.  What does this teach us about the importance of a correct understanding of the nature of God?  Are we to understand that repeating a prayer to God is wrong?  See Mat 26:39,42,44, Luk 18:1-7.

Mat 6:9-15   The Lord’s Prayer—see separate study that follows.

Mat 6:16-18 What circumstances are often associated with fasting?  See Mat 9:14-15, Jdg 20:25-26, 2Sa 1:12, 12:16-17, Ezr 10:6, Neh 1:4, Joe 2:12, Jon 3:5-10.  In this light, why was it considered inappropriate to fast on certain days that were meant to be celebrations?  Cf. Neh 8:2,9-12, and Judith 8:6 “She fasted all the days of her widowhood, except the day before the sabbath and the sabbath itself, the day before the new moon and the day of the new moon, and the festivals and days of rejoicing of the house of Israel.”  What is the purpose of fasting?  See Ezr 8:21-23, Neh 9:1-2, Est 4:16, Psa 35:13, Dan 9:1-3, Act 13:2-3, 14:23 and cf. the three day fast of Esther (Est 4:16) and the forty day fasts of Moses (Deut 9:9-19), Elijah (1Ki 19:1-8), and Jesus (Mat 4:1-2).  Is it the physical act of fasting that moves God to grant our petitions, or the brokenness and humbleness of heart that one expresses to God by fasting?  See Jer 14:10-12, Luk 18:10-14.  What deeds exemplify the heart attitude that makes fasting effectual for obtaining that for which we petition God, and how do these contrast with the “religious” deeds people often suppose to signify their contrition? See Isa 58:1-12, and again Luk 18:11-12.  What “deeds” did those whom Jesus condemns in Mat 6:16 suppose to signify their contrition?  What did their deeds signify about their heart attitude and purpose for fasting?  What did Jesus say would be their reward for such?  Is it better for our piety to be seen and observed by men so as to receive their reward, or to be seen and observed by God so as to receive His reward?  What then does Jesus say we should do when fasting?  See Mat 6:17-18.

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