33: The Lord's Prayer
When Jesus talked to His disciples and followers, He stressed that they should not look to the Pharisees as examples. When such hypocrites gave alms for the poor, they didn't have compassion on the poor. They only wanted people to see how kind and good they were.
Jesus said, "See to it that when you do good, it is not in order to be seen by others. Give your alms in such a way that the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing."
Jesus also talked about prayer. The Pharisees liked to pray in public, on street corners. People would notice what they were doing there and praise them for it.
That was not true prayer. It was only a stream of words that would not be heard.
Jesus said, "When you pray, go into your inner room, shut the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.
"When you pray, do not go on and on and on, the way the pagans do. They believe they will be heard because of all their words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need even before you ask Him."
The disciples were told that they must learn to pray just as a child speaks to his father—simply and full of trust. The Father in heaven would surely hear their prayers, for He loves His people even more than a father loves his children.
Jesus said to them, "Ask, and it will be given to you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; everyone who seeks, finds; and to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened.
"Which of you, if his son should ask him for bread, would give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, would give him a snake? If you, sinners that you are, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good things to those who ask for them in prayer?"
Jesus also taught a prayer to His disciples. It is such a simple prayer that any child can learn it. Yet it is such a full, complete prayer that there is really nothing more to pray for. It is a perfect prayer, the best and most beautiful prayer that anyone has ever prayed: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. May Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on earth just as in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our sins, just as we forgive those who sin against us. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil. For Yours is the Kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen."
Jesus also talked about true riches. Many people thought that money and property would make them happy. They sweated and saved to become rich. They wanted to love God too, but money was more important to them.
What anxious lives such people led! Day and night they worried about their earthly treasures. Mammon, the idol of money, was a harsh master.
Levi the tax-collector, one of Jesus' disciples, had given up all his money and property to follow Jesus. Yet now he was richer than ever.
Jesus said, "Do not gather treasures for yourselves here on earth, where moth and rust cause decay and thieves break in and steal. Lay up treasures in heaven instead, where moths and rust will not make them decay, and there are no thieves to break in and steal. Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.
"No one can serve two masters. He will hate one and love the other, or he will cling to one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon."