Christ tells them that “ye should do alms unto the poor.” (1) But he tells them to do it secretly, not to be seen of men, or we already have our reward. But “that thine alms may be in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, himself shall reward thee openly.” (4)
Taking care of the poor is vital to our salvation, it seems. If we don’t take care of them, nothing else we do matters. But our motive in serving seems just as important as the service.
If we do things to be seen of men and be praised by them, we have our reward of men, not God. Our Savior wants us to act in humility, not pride. He wants our motivation to be serving Him, not seeking to be propped up on a pedestal by men/women.
He says the same things about prayer, to do it in secret, not to be seen of man. Prayer is a sacred opportunity to communicate directly with Him, and we can’t do that if we are more worried about what others think of us.
He counsels against using vain repetitions or much speech “for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.” (8)
The order of prayer is set forth by Jesus (the Lord’s prayer):
He openly acknowledges His Father in Heaven and reverences His holy name. (9)
He puts His will aside for the Father’s. “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (10)
He asks for forgiveness and promises to forgive. (11)
He asks for deliverance from temptation and evil. (12)
He acknowledges once more His Father’s majesty, power, and might. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever.” (13)
The simplicity of this prayer is what touches me.
How could my own prayers change if I spent more time praising God for His glory and His perfection, acknowledging my unworthiness before Him?
Instead of thinking I am so much better than others, how might I gain heavenly power by being humble and asking forgiveness for what I do wrong instead, and then promising to forgive all those who might wrong or hurt me each day?
How much strength could I receive if I humbly submitted to His will, instead of stubbornly justifying my own?
How much guidance and protection would I gain if I humbly asked God to help me distinguish between truth and falsehood and deliver me from evil in all its many forms (subtle and not so subtle)?
Prayer has the potential to bring us closer to God. Am I using putting the principles of Christ’s prayer into action in my own life? How could I do better?
Christ finishes his prayer and talks about the importance of forgiveness. We must forgive others to be forgiven of Him.
He talks about the principle of fasting, and again emphasizes that we don’t fast to be seen or praised by man, wearing sad faces or seeking pity because we are hungry.
But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thy head, and wash thy face;
That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father who is in secret; and thy Father who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.”3 Nephi 13:17-18
He talks about treasures, and tells us not to seek treasures on earth, that can be stolen or decay.
But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal.
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”3 Nephi 13:20-21
What do I treasure?
What am I spending my time doing? Where do my top priorities rest? What do I spend most of my time thinking about?
Answering these questions can help us know where our heart is, and if changes are needed in our life.
He talks about how “no man can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one, and love the other, or else he will hold to the one and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and Mammon.” (24)
I heard that Mammon was riches. Money is not evil, but loving it is. If wealth becomes our treasure that we spend all our time on gaining or enjoying and if riches are our top priority, then we won’t love God.
We can do much good with money, like serving the poor. That’s what Christ would want us to do with it. But if we set our hearts upon our wealth and covet and hoard it, then we are not serving God. We are serving ourselves.
He speaks to his newly called apostles and tells them to remember His words and minister to the people as He has ministered to them. He tells them not to worry about their basic needs. He will take care of these, “if ye are not of little faith.” (30)
He urges them (and us) to “seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things (physical needs like hunger, clothing, etc) shall be added unto you.” (33)
We can never go wrong when we seek to do God’s will first.
When we put Him first, everything else in our busy lives will fall into place or fall off our plates.