In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him. "This is how you are to pray: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Give us today our daily bread; and forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors; and do not subject us to the final test, but deliver us from the evil one. If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions. (Mt 6:7-15)
Jesus tells us here about prayer: what is should be and how is should be. Prayer is not a repetition of meaningless words and phrases. It is not something that has to be heard by someone so that we are granted something for our life. Prayer is one of life’s great mysteries. It exhibits relationship. Because, it is addressed to the Father. It is not to an unknown deity.
Jesus gives a framework for this prayer. Prayer is not a magical formula but a meaningful expression of one’s own desires and wishes. This prayer is addressed to the Father (God) who lives in heaven and has a reign (Kingdom). To this Father we can ask for everything (even food) but especially for forgiveness. We also need to pray for God’s guidance, protection and presence in times of trial which is on the way.
Only condition in the prayer is that we should be forgiving people. The heart that will not open to forgive others will remain closed when God’s own forgiveness is offered. This is the prayer that the Father wants to hear from his children; a prayer acknowledges him as a Father living and active (Kingdom) and grants all to his children; and grants forgiveness provided there is a forgiving heart.
"(But) take care not to perform righteous deeds in order that people may see them; otherwise, you will have no recompense from your heavenly Father. When you give alms, do not blow a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets to win the praise of others. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward…
"When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward…
"When you fast, do not look gloomy like the hypocrites. They neglect their appearance, so that they may appear to others to be fasting. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward… (Mt 6:1-6,16-18)
Righteous deeds are performed for God and not to be seen by men. Righteous deed could also be said as pious deeds but actually the word means ‘covenant behaviour’. In this word there is a sense of obligation which Israel had to God because of being his special people. Israel had these three obligations to God because of their covenant relationship with God. And they are: giving money, praying, and fasting.
These actions are meant to show their relationship with God and these actions are not for men to see or to be seen by men. Israel had to learn to do the simply to and for God himself. God is the centre.
We are not asked to perform them without reward in mind. Because he himself repeats three times that ‘Your Father will reward’. Jesus is not bothered about disinterested behaviour. Jesus is more realistic. Even the most disinterested action/behaviour, will show that we are interested in pleasing our lofty ideal of disinterested action. Jesus, instead, wants us to be eager to please and to love God. That is why Jesus is asking us to do charity without keeping record, praying privately and fasting without being noticed.