“When you pray, don’t be like hypocrites. They love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners so that people will see them. I assure you, that’s the only reward they’ll get. But when you pray, go to your room, shut the door, and pray to your Father who is present in that secret place. Your Father who sees what you do in secret will reward you (Matthew 6:5-6, Common English Bible).
For the past month, prayer has been the subject of worship, study and discussion around my church as we have been working our way through Mark Batterson’s book, The Circle Maker. It is my favorite book on prayer.
Some of Batterson’s discussion has been about prayer posture. He talks about literally praying on our knees. I know for some people, that is difficult, maybe even impossible because of the physical limitations of the body. Still, there is something about humbling ourselves by being on our knees or even prostrate on the floor. The thing is, its about humbling ourselves. If the reason we are kneeling or laying on the floor is so others can see how faithful we are in prayer, we can stop because we need to remember, it isn’t really about us.
As a pastor, I regularly pray in front of other people. I know many lay people who do that as well. Once I heard someone say they didn’t pray in public because of our passage today. I might be wrong, but I really don’t think this is what Jesus means here. This isn’t an instruction against corporate prayer. It is all about prayer that focuses on the one praying rather than focusing on and giving the glory to God. When we do that, we not only miss the boat, we are miles from the water.
Prayer, is not about me. To think otherwise defies logic. If prayer is about me, why do I need to pray. If I am praying about something that is within my power to do, that means I don’t need God and there was really no point in saying a prayer. But, to pray for things I cannot do, moves my prayer past myself. It is not a prayer about me. It at least should give all the glory to God. And, that is where the glory belongs.
It is one thing to pray together. But, we also need prayer time on our own. This is where the importance of going to our prayer closet, to go into a private place where we can focus on God. This kind of alone prayer is important to our personal spiritual development. It is vital to the growth of our souls.
I don’t think this necessarily has to be a room, but instead the place where you feel closest go God. To be effective in prayer means placing ourselves in the place where we do feel close to God. For some that might be a closet. For others it might mean sitting under a tree in the woods or while walking on the beach. The possibilities are endless. The real key is to find the place and then spend time alone with God.
Where is your place to talk to God?
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
Joy and Peace,
Copyright 2017, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved