Sometimes, in art, and particularly painting, to make a subject stand out, the artist will use “negative space” (sections of dark and shadow) to bring attention to the “positive space” – i.e. the subject. In defining real prayer, let’s start by letting the Bible itself tell us what prayer IS NOT:
“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him”
(Matthew 6:5, 7-8).
In verse 5, what do you think is Jesus’ problem with public prayer?
Summarize what you think Jesus is saying here regarding “religious” prayers.
(And now for the most profound truth regarding prayer!) If God knows EVERYTHING and He is our “Father” and He loves us, why do we need to pray (as Jesus’ statement in verse 8 implies)?
(Whole books have been written on this subject, so don’t feel bad if your answer is long!)
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.