READ: Matthew 6:1-18
THINK: If you are a Christian, why do you serve Jesus? Think about your deepest motivation for following Christ and doing things for God (see 6:1 note). Do your acts of service reflect authentic love for God and a desire to please Him? Would you serve God regardless of the benefits or despite what others think? Also, consider the reasons and motives behind your prayers. Do they tend to be self-serving-focused on your own needs and concerns-or are they aimed at honoring God and fulfilling His purposes? (See 6:12-14 notes.)
RESPOND: What are the problems with doing good things primarily because of what others might think or notice? (See 6:1 note.) Does Jesus’ challenge to ‘pray…in secret” mean that you should keep your personal relationship with Jesus private? Why or why not? (See 6:6 note.) How would you explain to someone your reason for following Jesus? What can you learn from Jesus’ prayer in verses 9-13? What does it mean to pray to God, ‘Your kingdom come, your will be done,” and how should that affect your life? (See 6:1 notes.) What does your prayer life reveal about your relationship with God? Why would He withhold forgiveness from you if you refuse to forgive others? Why is forgiving others so important to your relationship with God? (See 6:12, 13 14, 15 notes.) What is fasting and how can it play a significant role in your prayer life and spiritual discipline? (See 6:16 note.)
PRAY: Using Jesus prayer in verses 9-13 as a guide, use your own words, situations and perspective to pray in a way that honors God and focuses on His purposes for your life and your current situations. Consider fasting a meal and spending that time with God in prayer.
ACT: Do something completely selfless for someone today-something that reflects God’s love and kindness but is not likely to benefit you in any way other than the satisfaction of serving Jesus and following His example. If you have an unresolved problem with anyone, take the first step to settle the issue and forgive any offenses.