But you, when you pray, go to your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your father who sees in secret will reward you openly.
Today, I am starting a series of sermons on the Practice of Prayer from Matthew 6:5-15. Please forgive me for not posting a manuscript. But, after many years of preaching, even more years of praying, studying the text through the week, and focusing on my life of prayer; I ought to be able to deliver this message with a few notes and the grace of the Holy Spirit.
The theme of today’s segment is “The Place of Prayer.” Here in the “Sermon on the Mount,” Jesus expects that we will intentionally make time for purposeful prayer. In the 5th verse, He does not say “if you pray,” He says “when.” The Christian has an obligation to set aside times during the day to be in communion with the Father. The early church fathers suggest that, at minimum, a time in the morning and evening.
The heart of our times of prayer must not rest in the public practice. While we are called to call upon the Father together in worship, the temptation of praying for human praise is to be rejected. If we pray in public because we like to be known for our piety, we are not seeking the Father who is eternal. We are seeking man who is temporal.
The heart of our times of prayer must be in private. When we are alone with the Father, we can be completely open with Him. We can give Him our complete attention and devotion. The Father is in the inner most parts of who we are as the body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Only when we meet Him in that place where no one else can see, will He bless us with a greater awareness of and ability to do His will and His mercy to endure and overcome our trials and temptations.
Thus, I offer you the Place of Prayer. Make a place for deliberate time with the Father during the morning and evening. When praying in worship services, do not pray for the sake of the audience. Go to the Father in privacy, reverence, and humility. By this, others will see the change in you.