“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.”
Expanded Passage: (Matt. 6:6)
My father was a praying man. But I rarely caught him in the act.
On one Christmas holiday, my own family traveled to visit with my parents. The adults took the bedrooms, while the children slept on pull-out beds and empty spaces on the floors. Early in the morning, my son got up to get a drink and discovered his grandfather sitting in a corner of the dining room in the dark. He told me later that day about being startled to find him like this. I said, “He does that every morning. That’s where he prays for everyone.” I knew he prayed for me, even though I seldom saw him do it.
Some have taken these words of Jesus to mean that we should never participate in public praying, or that a Christian should not lead others in a prayer for the community. These types of corporate prayers are always important in the life of the church. But praying in secret is a transformative place where our motive is only to seek truth and love.
We may know people who can “pray down the heavens” during worship through beautiful, heartfelt entreaties. A chorus of “amens” may resonate from those listening. But I’d still rather have a father who prays for me in the dark corner of a room to a God whom he can’t see.
Find a quiet place where you can pray to God by yourself.
Rich Eckley is professor emeritus of theology at Houghton College (NY). He is an ordained Wesleyan minister and enjoys—with his wife Lynn—entertaining four active grandchildren.
© 2023 Wesleyan Publishing House. Reprinted from Light from the Word. Used by permission. Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®.