Jesus challenges the hypocritical practice of religion for show. The term “hypocrite” derived from one who wore a mask while acting in a play. True religion is genuine, and not lived for the recognition and praise that some people enjoy.
The prayer that is often called “The Lord’s Prayer” is a simple, model prayer for believers. We should not run on and on in prayers, telling God things he has always known, etc. While we appreciate well-worded prayers, simplicity is wonderful. When Jesus said, “This, then, is how you should pray,” he did not mean repeating the words by rote memory. He was teaching sincerity and relevance. Prayer is directed to God—so Jesus taught us. He is to be revered and praised. We ask him to further the interests of his kingdom, and we pray for his will to be done on earth. God’s will shall be done, but will we do the will of God? It is up to us (Matt. 7:21). We look to God for daily blessings, and we thank him for what we receive. We also look to God for forgiveness, as we have practiced forgiveness. We ask God’s help in time of temptation.
Fasting is an interesting subject. It is not commanded, but assumed. There are times that we give ourselves completely to prayer and service, forgoing food. When hunger gets our attention, we remember the one who blesses us and intensify our prayers.
Materialism always challenges. Paul says that covetousness is a form of idolatry (Col. 3:5). It is not possible to give ourselves to God fully when we are compromised by the pursuit of worldly treasure. It is not money, but the love of money that is the problem (1 Tim. 6:10).
My comments are not an inspired commentary, but rather a few words to draw attention to the background, context, and dynamic situation of Matthew’s gospel. May God bless your reading of His Word. T.C.