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Sermon on the Mount: Charity and Prayer

What did Jesus have to say about attitudes to charity and prayer?

Free Text on a White Surface Stock PhotoHave you ever raised money for charity? Maybe you have done a sponsored walk, worn a red nose or had your hair shaved off!

Many people like to support charities. They make a big difference in raising money for lots of worthy causes. In the past, many people were dependent on the giving of others to help them through difficult circumstances. Throughout the centuries, before the Welfare State, charitable giving has been one of the key roles of the church.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus advises people that when they give to charity should do so in secret and not show off about it. The idea is that giving should come from a willing heart and not from someone who is just trying to make themselves look better.

Jesus warned about being a hypocrite, that is pretending to be something that they're not. It is sincerity that matters not the action in itself. This applies to giving but also extends to prayer and fasting.

Jesus criticises those who make a show of piety by bragging about how much they give away, saying long prayers on the street corner so everyone hears them. Jesus is saying that if people do these things to show off or in order to get a spiritual reward, then they will receive no reward because their motives are wrong.

Jesus teaches that prayer should be short and to the point and not said like a form of magic, using a great number of words thinking that you are more likely to be heard that way. Jesus demonstrates how prayer should be approached by teaching the Lord's Prayer.

This teaching can be found in Matthew 6.

Find out more about the Lord's Prayer here.

Reflect: What sort of charities are you interested in? Have you ever done something to look generous but had a different motive? Can you think of a way that you can be generous towards someone today?