But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
What is prayer? It is not merely a religious exercise or a ritual. The goal is not to speak much to try to earn God’s favor. It’s not about the words we say or how eloquently we speak. It is a private conversation with our Father where a relationship is cultivated. It is time spent sharing our hearts and focusing on God. And that is not supposed to be about appearing pious or hoping others will admire our show of devotion. It’s about something more personal than that.
Why do we pray? So that we may know our Father better, share our burdens, receive forgiveness, experience His love, make requests, and give God worship and honor. Those are the things Jesus mentions in the example of prayer that He gives. It starts with God and ends with God, and the middle, we find a place to align ourselves with His will, to understand our need for Him, to empty our hearts of concerns and sin, and then to exalt our God to the highest place.
Where do we pray? Really, we can pray anywhere. We can pray around other people and with other people. But there should also be times where we enter into that closet and shut the door behind us. There are times where we keep our prayers between us and God. We close out distractions and prying eyes. We let it be an important time with one we love. We let nothing interfere with it and guard it as something precious and intentional.
What is the result of prayer? God sees us and hears us. He’s paying attention while we’re talking to Him. He knows what we say, what we need, and what He is going to do in response. He answers our prayers in the way He knows will be best. He rewards us for our faithfulness to that special and private relationship with blessings others will be able to see. May we make prayer a priority in our lives. May we carve out a time and place to go in and shut the door and talk with our Father, sharing our hearts and listening for that still small voice.