The Heart of the Issue
Over the last few devotionals, we have learned just how important our heart motivation is in giving, praying, and fasting. In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus continues to deal with matters of the heart,
"Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also."
How do you lay up treasures in heaven? Jesus told the rich young ruler, "Sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven." So giving to help people, giving to the poor, giving to ministry, giving to God's work instead of hoarding it up, giving to God—that is the way you lay treasure up in heaven.
But notice that Jesus goes on to say, "Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also." Jesus hasn't really changed the subject. The heart of the issue is the heart. That is the theme of Jesus' teaching.
A right heart attitude—a proper heart motive—is what God cares about most. That is true whether you are giving, you are praying, or you are fasting. He wants you to do these things for the right reasons.
Those right reasons include your desire to help people. Your desire to express your love for God and His Kingdom. Those are the right reasons.
Jesus said, when you are motivated by the right reasons, you are laying up treasure in heaven. He says, "Where your treasure is (in heaven with God), there your heart will be also."
His point? The heart of the issue is your 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.