“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.”
There certainly is nothing complicated about understanding what this verse says. There isn’t a complex cultural puzzle, other than the obvious fact from context that people in Jesus’ day did a lot of public praying! But in arriving at a practical working definition of what prayer is for “us,” think back to our first weeks of this study. At the center point of LIFE designed by God, is a relationship with Him. The most important feature of any relationship is communication (all women understand this and most men are catching up!) In this most primary of relationships, God has set up a two-way radio of sorts – His Word (for incoming messages) and Prayer (for outgoing messages). That’s why on our WHEEL outline, the “Word” is in the vertical “down” position, and “Prayer” is in the vertical “up” position. But why do you think Jesus inserts verse 6 into His teaching on prayer?
Where is someone more likely to be phony and ingenuous in their prayer life – when they are praying publicly or privately?
Where does the “REAL” you come out – when you are with people, or when you are alone?
What should be the foundation of our prayer life – private prayer or public prayer?
Truly in the general tenor of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7, we could say that if MOST of our Christian expression is simply outward “before others,” then we’ve been exposed as fakes and hypocrites. If we pray more in public than private; if we give mainly to be seen by others; if we fast primarily to impress other people; if we go to church, raise our hands in public, sing in public, act sweet in public BUT the opposite in PRIVATE – then our core is rotten and the very foundation of the character development that God wants to build in us is found wanting.
Here’s a simple evaluation question you can ask yourself every week… Did I pray more in private (alone with God) or public (with other people) this week?
Why do you think PRIVATE prayer needs to be the foundation of our prayer LIFE?
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.