God blessed us highly last night at Crossroads youth. In particular the Lord blessed us richly with His presence and wisdom at the high school JAM time (learn more here) as we studied and applied Matthew 6:1-15. Each of the JAM participants (Matt*, Caitlin, Staci, Aaron, Brody, Brenden and I) received different but complimentary messages from the Lord through this passage. We ended with a time where each of us prayed for the person on our right. So sweet.
One theme that came through was the question of who our charity and prayer are for. Jesus spoke to those who considered their worship and generosity to be a form of making themselves look good to others. As I was reading and studying, praying and listening to Matthew 6:1-15 I was shown how much of our typical worship and prayer is planned and "done" to make ourselves and others comfortable.
Who are we worshiping? As the Lord says in Galatians 1:10 - "Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ." That doesn't mean we can act without love as we pray and worship, but it does mean that God needs always to be number one.
That's why we sometimes pray and worship with our eyes closed. We do that not because we must, or because there is a religious rule, but so can focus on God, who is unseen, and direct our worship to Him alone. Try it at church when you know the song or in the prayer time. As you close your eyes you will worry less about pleasing the others who are around us as you pray. It's a way of "closing the door" and praying to God who is in secret even when we are in the company of others.
I am so thankful what God is doing at Crossroads, and at high school JAM. Like I said, others received other "words" from God for their lives last night, but this is what I heard Him saying to me.
* Matthew Dahlseng was our leader last night.
** IQA is a Bible study method we learned at Leadership Quest.