Jesus tells us how to give, how to pray, and how to fast in today’s Bible reading.
You really can’t separate Jesus’ teaching on these three Spiritual Disciplines. Why? Because He uses the exact pattern in all three: Whenever you ___, don’t be like the hypocrites who practice their ____ to be seen by people. Indeed they have received their reward in full. Instead, when you ___, go it secretly and your Father Who sees in secret will reward you.
So should we not give openly? Should we not pray publicly? Should we not fast openly? That’s not what Jesus is saying. What He is saying is look at your heart. Look at your motivations. Make sure that when you give, that you’re not looking over your shoulder to make sure that people see you give big. When you pray, don’t concentrate on saying the right words with the right vocal emphases. And when you fast, don’t make a big deal of it.
Actually, that’s the central point of all of the Spiritual Disciplines: Don’t make a big deal of it. Spiritual Disciplines (and the others) are for you to deepen your walk with God. They aren’t to be paraded around in front of other people so they give you their accolades. He says that if you’re doing it for the praise of people, that’s all you’re going to get. If you want the accolades of your Father, you need to do these things with your Father in mind.
Your Father wants to reward your giving. Your Father wants to answer your prayers. Your Father wants to reward your fasting. Seek Him in secret. He’ll meet you there.