“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.” – Matthew 6:6 NIV
What exactly is Jesus saying here? Does he mean to say the only time we pray is in a private room alone with the door closed? What about the passage that says we are to pray unceasingly? It’d be next to impossible to stay in a closet praying 24/7. What about all the other examples of people praying aloud and in public throughout the Scriptures? Jesus can’t mean we are never to pray publicly, but he does strongly emphasize the practice of private prayer here.
I believe Jesus’ intent in this teaching on prayer is to debunk a few common ideas around religious prayer. He’s helping his disciples learn that prayer is more convenient and more intimate than what they had been experiencing from attending synagogues nearby. Judaism modeled religious prayer as pious, spoken in a sacred language, and best when many others can appreciate your beautifully articulated words. Whereas, Jesus modeled prayer as humble, in a heart language, and best practiced in a place where you can be undistracted from anything or anyone.
Choosing an undistracted rhythm of prayer in solitude is key to connecting with a God who is unseen. And the result of this intentional rhythm is delighting God’s heart as well as tasting sweet delight in it too. But rhythms of intentional private prayer don’t find their way into our life automatically. Often it takes choosing a particular place to pray and create space for this intentional rhythm. Where can you hide away today to pray to your Father who is unseen?