“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.“
The Easter season is a wonderful time to reflect on our prayer life. As many of us give up something for Lent, denying ourselves something we want as a sign of denying temptation, prayer becomes the centerpiece of our endurance. We need prayer to continue living in holiness and fight against our own desires. Only then can we deny ourselves and take up our cross to follow Jesus!!
Jesus shared His thoughts on prayer during His Sermon on the Mount, leaving direction, conviction, and encouragement.
Matthew 6:5-8 tells us, “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. 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. 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.”
I doubt that there are many of us who see ourselves in this situation. After all, we probably don’t spend a lot of time praying while standing in a synagogue or on a street corner. Nor do we probably consider ourselves as the type of people to babble on “like pagans”.
But, we may find a similar hypocrisy pop up in our own lives. Maybe it looks like raising our hands in church to fit in with the person next to us, instead of responding in true worship. Or maybe it looks like offering to pray in your bible study group just so people know what a good pray-er you are. Or perhaps it looks more like reading your Bible in a coffee shop but never truly opening it up at home. Wherever you find yourself on this spectrum, we can all admit there are many ways we fall short every day regarding this topic.
Yet, Jesus introduces to us an interesting disciple: praying in solitude. The word used for prayer in this passage of scripture is “proseuchomai” which breaks down into the word “prós” which means exchange and the word “euxomai” which means to wish, pray.
Together, this word means to exchange wishes or prayers, thus it narrrates the idea of interacting with the Lord to exchange our wishes or prayers for His plan and wishes for us. And this is why solitude is such an important discipline.
When we find time alone, praying to the Father in secret and solitude, we can truly exchange with the Lord. We can converse with Him without the pressures and distraction of those around us and instead focus on the ways that He is pressing into us.
“…for your Father knows what you need before you ask him,” (Matthew 6:8) is such an impactful line that shows us what it looks like to truly exchange wishes with the Father. God knows what we want, but more so, He knows what we truly need. He wants to invite us into His plan and purpose, yet we have to be willing to sit with Him and truly ask.
Today, as we get closer to the Easter holiday, spend a moment in solitude with the Lord. Close the door and spend time one on one with the Father. He loves you.
For more on the word proseuchomai check out this reference