Matthew – Chapter 6 – Week 2
Read Matthew 6:5-15 and your notes from Sunday morning’s sermon.
We’ve been studying Matthew Chapter 6, where Jesus corrects some ways people have put their faith into practice. Last week we talked about how people would use charity as a way to show their righteousness, this week we will go over prayer. People dealt with the same issues with prayer as they did with charity. They wanted to be seen and perhaps admired for their prayers. Once again, this is an issue of the heart or intention behind our actions. We shouldn’t stop praying altogether, or never pray in front of others, but we do need to be focused on the prayer itself, the laboring with God, rather than the people who may hear our prayers. Beginning in verse six Jesus turns His attention to His followers and how they should pray, indicating that it will be different than the way He just described others praying.
He goes on to say that we shouldn’t babble on as the pagans do. Length of prayer won’t persuade God to give us what we want, as the pagans believed. Again, that’s not to say that we should never pray for a long time, but we don’t believe that more words equal a better prayer. Finally, Jesus simply shows us an example of how to pray. He gives us a guide or a model for what our prayers may look like.
- How does addressing God as our Father shape our prayers? How might it also limit them?
- Why do you think Jesus tells his followers to ask God for their daily bread in his example of prayer?
- Based on the example of prayer, how important do you think forgiveness is to God?
Feel free to discuss or ask additional questions as they arise
We introduced the spiritual practice of Sabbath last week. This week, lets take a closer look. Before we start, lets remember that we choose to practice sabbath because we choose to follow Jesus. It’s something that He did in his life and something that He calls us to do so that we may have more than physical rest, but rest for our inner selves. The end goal that absolutely all of us can expect if we practice sabbath is to become more like Jesus in that we will be calm, unanxious, and restful. “A person who is like a rock in a sea of chaos, unmoved by the overwork, overconsumption, and overactivity of our host culture.” as John Mark Comer says. Does that sound like something you’d like to embody? How can we get there?
First, let’s look at some small steps we can take to make sabbath a manageable practice, especially for those of us who have never done it before. Here are a few tips courtesy of Practicing The Way’s Sabbath Companion Guide:
- Start Small – Start where you are, not where you “should” be. If a full 24 hours is too much, start with a half-day; if that’s too much, start with a few hours.
- Think subtraction, not addition – Please do not “add” Sabbath into your already overbusy, overfull life. Think: what can I cut out? A weekend sports team? A house project? Weekend emails? Formation is about less, not more.
- You get out what you put in – The more fully you give yourself to this Practice, the more life-changing it will be. The more you just dabble with it and the more shortcuts you take, the less transformation you will experience.
- Remember the J-curve – Experts on learning tell us that whenever we set out to master a new skill, it tends to follow a J-shaped curve; we tend to get worse before we get better. If you currently enjoy your Sunday routine or day off, don’t be surprised if your first few Sabbaths are awkward and difficult. Just stay with the Practice; you will come around.
- There is no formation without repetition – Spiritual formation is slow, deep, cumulative work that takes years, not weeks. The goal of this four-session experience is just to get you started on a journey of a lifetime. Upon completion of this Practice, you will have a map for the journey ahead and hopefully some possible companions for the Way. But what you do next is up to you.
Closing Verse: Romans 15:13 – May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.