Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Jesus on Prayer in Matthew 6.5-15

5”And whenever you (pl.) are praying, don’t be like the pretenders, because they love to be praying while standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, so that they would be clear to men. Truly, I say to you, they are fully getting paid their reward. 6But whenever you yourself are praying, go into your inner room and after you’ve locked your door to pray to your Father, the One in the hidden place, and your Father, the One Who sees in the hidden place will give back to you.
7But when you are praying, don’t use the same words over and over again, just like the Gentiles, because they think that by/because of their long-windedness they will be listened to. 8So don’t be like them, because your Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him. 9Therefore, in this way be praying yourselves:
‘Our Father, the One in the Heavens
Your name be reverenced!
10Your Kingdom come,
Your Will happen,
Like in Heaven also on earth!
11Our bread that we need daily give to us today!
12And forgive us the things we owe like we also have forgiven those who owe us.
13And don’t carry us into temptation,
Rather deliver us from the evil one!
14Because if you forgive men their wrongdoings, your Father, the Heavenly One will also forgive you. 15But if you won’t forgive men, your Father won’t forgive you your wrongdoings either.

The main point: 
Jesus teaches how to pray: 1) not with public hypocrisy for attention, but with private humility for God’s reward; 2) not using lots of words and powerful phrases, but with an honest, simply, God-focused prayer; 3) not with unforgiveness, but with forgiveness, so you can be forgiven—the power of prayer does not come from the multiplicity of words, but with the multiplicity of honesty and forgiveness. Jesus is hammering home unhypocritcal prayer. Jesus weaves both honest simplicity and lack of hypocrisy together in vv.7-15.

1.      Outline:
a.       Don’t be public hypocrites (v.5)
b.      Do be private legitimates (v.6)
c.       Don’t be babbling pagans (vv.7-8)
d.      Do be praying Christians (vv.9-13)
e.       Do be forgiving forgivens (vv. 12, 14)
f.       Don’t be unforgiving unforgivens (v.15)
2.      Structural notes:
a.       There seems to be something of a chiastic structure to this passage; however, it is not a clean chiasm, but a more fluid and blurred on.
                                                              i.      vv.5-6 = anti-hypocrisy
                                                            ii.      vv.7-8 = anti-manipulation/prolixity/power-words
                                                          iii.      vv.9-13 = pro-honest simplicity and humility
                                                          iv.      v.12, 14-15 = anti-hypocrisy, pro-power
b.      The power of prayer does not come from its publicity or prolixity, but from its humility and consistency 

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