What do you tend to keep out of sight of others? I imagine they are things that you would not want most people to know about. Most people tend to keep their vices to themselves. They can’t handle the scrutiny of others’ eyes. As a rule, folks hide stuff that they don’t want other people to know about. Funny thing is, it seems that exactly what Jesus is telling about our prayer life.
Now if you are like me, you grew up in church, and offering a public prayer was just part of the service. Leaders in the church offered prayer and they tended to ask for the Lord’s blessing on the service, or a blessing on the sick and so forth. Growing up in church taught me that prayer, when offered, ought to be offered as part of a service where others could see and hear it (and get bored by it if it went too long).
But Jesus offers an alternative here. He counters the then-public notion that prayer was to be offered in public, on the street corners, where others could see and hear. His reasoning is that when prayers are offered in such a fashion, they are offered to get the attention of others, to point to the holiness of the one praying, and to receive praise at such holiness. I doubt that’s a problem today. We are hard-pressed to get people to pray today at all.
But in both those days and today, Jesus is calling us to a fervent prayer life. I think it might be comparable to the intimacy we share with our spouse. With the degree of intimacy we have, and the passion we share with out spouse, Jesus is calling us to have such a passionate prayer life. We ought to have such fervent prayer and intimacy in our passionate seeking the Lord’s presence that the tears and the sighing and all of our deep soul’s emanations that we just don’t want others to see it for embarrassment. I have had that kind of prayer. It is the kind of prayer where your soul both aches and yet is strangely warmed.
Lord Jesus, I need that kind of prayer life. May my prayers be so passionate for You that I can’t bear to share them in public, but that in my prayer closet, I honor and lift up You. Lead me to real, soul-filled prayer, that I won’t be surprised when I see you face to face. In You Name I pray, Amen!