5 “When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. 6 But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
I began praying in the synagogue (sanctuary) long before I ever started praying in my inner room. Back then, I was plagued with the fear of being exposed or criticized when praying with a small group of people, so I remained silent, content to be a voyeur. Prayer is an intensely intimate conversation with the Creator of the Universe and honestly, I wanted to control how deeply I related to Him- and His children.
After years of being encouraged by church leaders, I finally forced myself to devote some time in my very busy schedule to talk to God and read His Word on my own. I’ll admit, that even though I was submitted to these daily disciplines, I didn’t particularly enjoy them. The desire to want to go away in secret not only to talk to God, but also hear Him speak through His spoken and written Word took years to emerge.
“Jesus did not say- dream about thy Father in secret, but pray to thy Father in secret. Prayer is an effort of will….the great battle in private prayers is the overcoming of mental wool-gathering. We have to discipline our minds and concentrate on willful prayer”
-Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest
Almost a decade later, I finally created a space in our master bedroom where I could go away, shut the door, lock it (remember, we have 4 children!!!) and pray to my Father in secret. Since then, that inner room has become a refuge, a safe place for me to pour out my anger, grief, joy, fear, gratitude, frustration, and worship to my Savior. Now, when I get up and get started on my very busy schedule without going there, my soul knows it…. and yearns to retreat back.
Prayer is a lifeline to the heart of the Father. Just as Jake Sully, in the movie Avatar had to learn to “connect” to Eywa (their god), we must learn to be still and connect to the one true God in order to know Him. Otherwise, we’ll never be able to love Him, love others, or go make disciples.
Do you have an inner room? When’s the last time you went there, closed the door and prayed to your Father in secret?