A Matter of the Heart
God cares deeply about the motivations of our hearts. Yesterday, we saw that the heart is what matters most in giving. In Matthew 6:6, 17-18, we are shown just how important the heart is to God.
First Jesus deals with our heart when we pray,
"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."
Next He deals with our heart when fasting,
"But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly."
Jesus wants you and me to pray with the right heart, not seeking the praise of others. And the same is true with fasting. When you fast, you are not supposed to let everybody know.
When you fast, if somebody says, "Hey, would you like to go to lunch today?" and you reply, "I can't. I'm fasting," they may think, "Wow, he's spiritual!" but that is all the reward you get, right there, so you better enjoy it.
What is Jesus' point? When we give to the poor, when we pray, when we fast, we do not do it to get the applause or recognition of men. We do it out of obedience to God, out of love for our fellow men, and just wanting to help somebody else who is trying to make it through the day on this planet.
That is why we should do it. That is the right motivation of the heart.
Prayer is communication with God. It is speaking, and it is also listening. And like all communication, prayer is a skill that can and should be improved.