“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)
In contrast to the hypocrite of Matthew 6:5, who loves to have their prayers seen and heard in public places, Jesus tells His disciples that they should pray to their Father in secret. Because God is our Father, we are set free from the need to impress others in our prayer life. Instead, we can turn aside to the secret place of our lives to speak to Him.
Ironically, in Jesus’ time most of His hearers only had one-room houses, so it wasn’t like they had an extra secret room somewhere. While it can be helpful to literally have a prayer closet, Jesus emphasizes that we should go into some secret place where we can meet with God.
Jesus’ example shows us what the secret place with God looks like. We read in one part of the Gospels that Jesus had “no place to lay His head” (Luke 9:58). As a result, Jesus drew aside to be with God early in the morning (Mark 1:35), often in deserted places of solitude (Luke 5:16). Wherever He was, Jesus found a secret place where He could meet with His Father in secret.
At the same time, there was one place it seems Jesus often liked to draw away while in Jerusalem. That was the Mount of Olives. This was the place where Jesus prayed on the night of His betrayal in the Garden of Gethsemane (Matthew 26:36-56). It was a special place of prayer for Him where He could meet with the Father.
Whether on the road with no place to lay His head or in a regular place like the Mount of Olives, Jesus’ reward in prayer was not the accolades of others but simply meeting with His Father.
If we are praying to our Father and not to the crowds of people around us, where is our secret place with God? Do you have a place where You can regularly meet with God in prayer? Is it your car, is it your office, is it literally a quiet nook or closet where you can talk with Him? Jesus assumes that we will pray – that’s why He says, “when you pray…” – so are we developing the secret life of prayer with Father God just like Jesus?
Father, I draw near to You
in the secret and the quiet
of this place and time
where You are found.
I want to tell You that You are my reward,
and I love You more than others’ praise.
Make that even more true in my life
than it is right now.
Grow me deeper with You in prayer,
and call me back again and again
into the secret place of prayer with You.