* Editor’s note: (Because of the length of this scripture, some of the content has been omitted. Please read the scripture in its entirety in your bible)
“You have heard that it was said, You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Beware of practicing your piety before others in order to be seen by them; for then you have no reward from your Father in heaven………..
But whenever you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you. When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven ,hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. And whenever you fast, do not look dismal, like the hypocrites, for they disfigure their faces so as to show others that they are fasting. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that your fasting may be seen not by others but by your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
In this passage we are told to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us, to be perfect as our Heavenly Father is perfect. I believe most of us try to love our enemies and to pray for them. This is one of the hardest things we are asked to do!
We are also directed to be pious, not to brag about how much money we give to charity and not to pray so that others can see us praying. We are to do these things in secret. Our Father who sees us in secret will reward us. He knows what we need before we ask. We are to pray in this way:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also haveforgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.”
If we forgive others then our Father will forgive us. We are also advised not to look dismal when we are fasting. We are to hide our discomfort from others and our Father will reward us.
I am reminded that I need to try harder. What a wonderful world it would be if we all followed his teaching!
– Submitted by Ruth Jenkins-McIntire