March 31, 2012: The Thirty-Fourth Day of Lent
March 31, 2012 § Leave a comment
“But when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you.” ~ Matthew 6.6 ~
Christ continues his instruction regarding prayer. Having just cautioned against praying with wrong motives, he gives his audience something to do instead. The actions that Christ speaks of here isolate the praying one from others, guaranteeing that God the Father is the only audience present.
Christ mentions an “inner room” as the ideal place for prayer. Most houses of this time would have had a central room of some kind, windowless and with a door. Many people used these rooms for storage of valuables, as their location within the house would have made them difficult for a burglar to gain easy access. Praying in such a place illustrates what Christ says about proper heart attitudes. In such a room, the chances of being seen by anyone diminish greatly, if not completely. This is just what God desires: during prayer all attention should be upon God, not the surroundings.
We should also remember that Christ still expects his disciples to pray in group and public settings as well; they should not leave off praying with others in their immediate vicinity. Rather, Christ challenges his audience to take the attitude of prayer in the inner room out into other arenas of prayer as well. Even when surrounded by people, the audience of God the Father should be the only concern.
The “repayment” mentioned here can be found within the realities of the Kingdom of Heaven as we saw in the Beatitudes. Those who desire righteousness like they desire food and water, those who recognize their own spiritual bankruptcy, those who are being washed with God’s purity – these people will live in God’s righteousness as ambassadors of his Kingdom, experiencing divine moments along the way.
Again, the challenge for us is to hear Jesus’ call to proper prayer. Prayer in solitude has proven to be a valuable exercise for many and should not be neglected. By the same token, prayer within community is a vital part of the life of faith and should be regularly enjoyed as well. Christ encourages us to take part in both, keeping our spiritual eyes focused only on our Father in Heaven.
Lord Christ, please remind me of the importance of prayer. Help me keep my mind fixed on you and you alone during times of prayer. Amen.