5 “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:5–6, NKJV).
Why do you pray? The Lord knows the reasons and motives of our prayers; He is the One who “knows the hearts of all” (Acts 1:24). Jesus knew many people pray so others will view them as religious and pious. They choose conspicuous places to petition heaven’s throne. Their desire (to be seen by men), once achieved, is their only reward. Citizens of the kingdom of heaven understand prayer to be intimate communication with their heavenly Father. It is a time to pour out thanks, adoration, petitions, and pleas to the throne of grace (Heb. 4:16). There we find the divine assurance of mercy, solace, and peace. Our Father is in private places. He sees, hears, and openly rewards our humble prayers (Phil. 4:6-7). Prayer is not a ritual; it is a retreat to commune with our Father. Keep pure motives when you pray. God sees the purpose of our prayers, so seek His approval when praying to Him. Remember, it is God who answers our prayers, not people. So pray to be seen by your heavenly Father.
9 Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him! (Matthew 7:9–11, NKJV)
Celebrating Father’s Day each year reminds us of the value of fathers, something the Bible repeatedly teaches. Far more than mere progenitors, fathers shape future generations and thus, nations and the world (not to mention churches). Their value cannot be overstated. We thank God for the gift of godly fathers and ask Him to continue to bless us with faithful fathers. We need and honor faithful fathers who listen to God’s word to guide their families. We need and honor faithful fathers who learn and live in the truth of God’s word. We need and honor faithful fathers who lead their families with diligence and duty, sacrifice and strength that comes from God. We need and honor faithful fathers who love the Lord first and, in that love, train their children to serve God and others (Heb. 12:5-7). Our heavenly Father is the perfect Father. May fathers listen and learn from His word to lead and love as He does us, His children.
“For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother.” (Mark 3:35, NKJV)
With these words, Jesus ranked the spiritual relationship one has with God in His family as more profound and fundamental than one’s relationship with family in the flesh. Doing the will of God brings us into familial relation with Jesus, but to disobey the will of God forfeits our right to claim a relationship with Jesus. With similar emphasis, Jesus said in another place, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matt. 10:37). Our first priority, then, must always be Christ and doing the will of God. While we love our families in the flesh, our Heavenly Father’s will takes precedence. Let us shape and mold ourselves after His will first, and then we will be better equipped to put all of our earthly relations in their proper places.