The Gospel According to St. Matthew: Matthew Chapter 6: Read Here: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/6?lang=eng
Jesus set the perfect example for us in practicing pure religion. He taught us to be humble and do those things that will please God without concern for impressing men. This applies to how we pray, how we fast, and how we serve.
Jesus Teaches Us to Practice Pure Religion
Do we assess why we give gifts? Do we do it to look good, to draw attention to ourselves, to gain praise from others, or to boost our own egos? Or, do we give out of love and the goodness of our hearts, with pure intent, desiring to bless others and bring joy to them, with no thought of recompense? If we give only to be noticed, we lose a heavenly reward; which probably, most immediately, means that good feeling that comes as a witness from the Holy Ghost that our Heavenly Father is pleased with us. What then could be our loss in the long run?
Jesus tells us not to let our left hand know what our right hand is doing when we give alms, or money, or service. What does He mean by that? When we do things quietly, without fanfare or calling attention to ourselves or the gift that we give, we are developing the kind of heart and love the Savior has; we are becoming charitable and acting out of pure love. He in turn will smile upon us and shower us with blessings and abilities because He knows that we will again choose to use His gifts to serve others, returning thanks to Him and not seeking praise for ourselves.
The same applies to the way we pray. Do we pray to be heard of men for our eloquence and education, or do we humbly petition our Father for His acceptance and His guidance? If we pour out our hearts to our Father privately, He will bless us openly in all that we do.
Jesus set an example for us in how to pray and what things we should say. God will always hear our humble prayers.
After reading the Lord’s Prayer, I noted a few things that are present beside the words spoken. Jesus addressed His Heavenly Father and offered Him praise. Jesus showed His submission to His Heavenly Father’s will. He asked that God would meet our requirements for physical sustenance. He showed humility in teaching us to not only pray to have our own debts and sins forgiven, but he showed us the necessity of extending forgiveness to others, too; especially, if we expect the same in return.
Jesus taught us the importance of asking God to guard us from choosing to succumb to temptations and asking Him for deliverance. Jesus again acknowledged his Father’s supremacy and glory.
It is interesting to note that there is a condition placed upon whether our Father will forgive our trespasses or not. We must first be willing to forgive each other.
A main purpose in fasting is to draw us closer to God. So when we fast, it should not be apparent to others that we are fasting. We should dress ourselves nicely, looking as presentable as any other day. If we fast to appear holy to others, that’s the only reward we will get. But when we fast with a sincere desire and purpose, which only our Heavenly Father knows and understands, He will hear our prayers and acknowledge our desires and bless us according to His own goodness.
Where is our treasure? Jesus tells us not to make the treasures of the earth what is important to us, but to value heavenly treasures. Where do we place the affections of our hearts?
How can we make our eyes single to the glory of God? If we follow Him and seek to do His will, we will be filled with light. We have to let go of our love of earthly treasures if we truly want to serve the Lord. It isn’t easy; but as we trust in Him, we can better serve Him, and be able to love and serve one another. When we put Him first, He will help us to know the important things we must do to follow Him and become like Him. Often we are judgmental of ancient Israel for worshiping other gods; but, we need to assess our own lives and make certain that we have no other gods before Him or besides Him.
God cares for us. We are His children. If we do His will, He will support and sustain us and give us what we need.
We must increase our faith. Being faithful is more than having a belief in God. It is putting our beliefs into action. In Matthew 6:33 we read, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
So today we must do what we can to serve Him, using our strength to improve our faith, worship, and service; neither procrastinating what He would have us do today, nor getting ahead of ourselves by doing more than is possible for us this day. We need to remain true to His purposes daily and trust in His timing.