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Giving and Praying

(Matthew 6:1-15)

Lesson 6 -- first quarter 2000
January 9, 2000

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 1999, Christian Light Publications

Why do I give? To give or not to give, that is not the question. That adaptation of Shakespeare implies that we all already give. The question we face here has to do with motivation and purpose. And as we shall review next, not all motives and purposes are noble and Christian.

People are watching. The people sharing our pew notice (I suppose) when I don't put anything in the offering basket as it goes by. The ushers notice (I assume) when this happens week after week. So I had better give. Outside the meetinghouse, people notice if I show up to help with work projects or if I stop to help the motorist in trouble or if I take cookies to the neighbor "just for anyhow." So I give.

God is watching. I know God sees both the evil and the good. And I also know that He rewards everyone according to their deeds. That can be quite strong incentive to give; besides, I want to stay on His "good side." So I give.

I want to help. When people or projects or programs need help, I want to give as much as possible. Sometimes I want to help only because of the two preceding factors. Sometimes I want to help only because I don't want to be left without help in my own time of need. And sometimes I help because I really care about the recipient of my help. So I give.

I have received freely and have been blessed generously. When I inventory the scope and magnitude of the provision and blessing I have enjoyed, I want to pass along that provision and blessing. I don't want to be selfish with what I have; I want to share it with others. So I give.

Why do I pray? We all pray. I hope that is true, anyway. But why pray? Interestingly, I found some motivations that parallel those for giving. See if you can connect with them.

People are listening. Surely you know the feeling: it's prayer meeting...and it's awfully, dreadfully, embarrassingly quiet. Somebody better pray! It better be I, I suppose. Besides, what will others think of me if I don't lead out? So I pray.

God is waiting. God wants His people to talk to Him. (He even wants to talk with them!) So I better pay Him a visit. But too often it's only a courtesy visit, a duty to be executed so that it can be scratched off the day's To Do list. Besides, if I don't pray at least once (not counting mealtimes) during the day, I feel guilty. Because I know God is waiting. So I pray.

I want help. Ah, yes! The really practical, down-to-earth aspect of praying! I get in a bind, or I'm stumped, or nothing else works, or I need a blessing . . . so I pray.

I have received freely and have been blessed generously. God has done and is doing so much for me. God's love and blessing are so broad and abundant. So I pray.

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