“When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”
Do you ever go into your garage, close the door, and pray? I’m not opposed to praying in my garage, but it’s not usually the first place that comes to mind when I think about a place to pray.
Yet that’s basically what Jesus tells his followers to do here. The word that Jesus uses for the place to pray literally means “storeroom.” In Jesus’ day storerooms were out-of-the-way spaces that were used mainly for storing tools and supplies, including food, and these rooms usually had a door that could be closed.
Jesus’ command makes prayer seem a secretive and private matter. Could that be his point?
In this passage Jesus is teaching his listeners about prayer, fasting, and tithing. These were all vital aspects of the people’s religious life, but some of the people’s leaders tended to use these activities as a way to show off how religious and devout they were.
Here Jesus warns against showy prayer. Earnest and honest prayer, he is saying, focuses on God alone. If you’re merely satisfied with impressing others, that will be your only reward. But if you want God to hear your prayers, speak only to him.
If your garage isn’t the best place for prayer, find another place where you can be alone with God and concentrate on communicating with him. “Then your Father, who sees what’s done in secret, will reward you.”
Father in heaven, help us to find just the right place to speak with you and to hear your voice. Amen.
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