April 26, 2016
6 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.
I want to begin today by asking you a piercing question. Ready? Are you doing what Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:6?
Be honest. Ok, I’ll go first.
If I had a trusted pastor or spiritual director who gave me this prescription– to go into a room, close the door and pray to my Father in secret– I would do it. So why am I not following Jesus’ instructions?
I think it’s because I consider that I don’t need to do that because I think of myself as praying all the time. My prayer life has become a kind of ongoing daily conversation. It’s more along the lines of “abiding” that he speaks of in John 15. Maybe I think I’m past the Matthew 6:6 approach. Right? You too?
Because of the invisible nature of prayer and the unseen reality of God, prayer can very easily become quite undefined in our every day practice of it. Jesus also shows us how it can be wrongly defined (as in the case of the hypocrites) Jesus wants to keep it real, clear, simple, practical, and defined.
1. Go into a room. (i.e. War Room) 2. Close the door. 3. Pray to your Father who is unseen.
I would add one more point to this that I believe is implied in #3: 4. Speak aloud.
I refer to this practice as 6:6.
There have been seasons in the past where I did this daily. Looking back, those were some of the richest, most alive days in my life. In fact, I did not learn to pray until I actually did this.
So what’s the reward? 6:6 prayer is the antidote to hypocrisy, the cure for insecurity, the secret of focusing the heart’s intention and the fertilizer of faith. It cultivates deep honesty, poverty of spirit, opportunity to mourn healthily what needs grieving, meekness, appetite for the goodness of God, the personal experience of mercy, a pure heart– indeed– beholding the very face of God, a peaceful spirit in the face of anxiety, a hiding place of embrace in the midst of persecution. (Did you catch that throw-back to the beatitudes?) ;0)
Nothing is more practical. Nothing is more purposeful. Nothing is more powerful.
I love Wesley’s take– esp the last phrase here:
“But when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father which is in secret.” There is a time when you are openly to glorify God, to pray, and praise him, in the great congregation. But when you desire more largely and more particularly to make your requests known unto God, whether it be in the evening, or in the morning or at noon-day, “enter into your closet, and shut the door.” Use all the privacy you can. (Only leave it not undone, whether you have any closet, any privacy, or no. Pray to God, if it be possible, when none sees but he; but, if otherwise, pray to God.) Thus “pray to your Father which is in secret;” pour out your heart before him; “and your Father which sees in secret, he shall reward you openly.” p.118
There’s another reason I don’t do this. Deep down, I don’t think I have time for it. Somehow I’ve convinced myself I need to be there for an hour or so.
Truth be told: Five Minutes (make it Six) will be a great start. 6:6:6. Arrrggghhh, so that’s a bad number—but what if this is the way to take that kind of darkness head on? Let’s make it 6:6:7! I’m going to do it. I’m starting again. Today. Will you join me?
1. O.K., I’ve been honest here about my prayer life. Your turn? Have you slipped into a less defined, more ambiguous prayer life? Reflect on that.
2. Can you think of a place—a secret place or a hideout— where you might begin to engage 6:6 prayer? It can literally be a closet. How about a time when you can do it?
3. What will keep you from doing this today? What will it take to move the obstacles out of the way? Realize, though, the powers of hell ally themselves against this kind of work. It’s the only thing they are really afraid of.
P.S. I’ve discovered that early morning easy chair in the living room is not the same as 6:6 prayer. You don’t necessarily have to stop doing that (it’s a good habit)– just add this 6:6 work somewhere in the order of the day.
J.D. Walt, is a Bond Slave of the Lord Jesus Christ. firstname.lastname@example.org.