Cornerstone Prayer Time Meditations

Every Wednesday evening at Cornerstone EFC, a faithful handful of God’s people meet for a short time in the Word and an extended time in prayer. I thought I’d attempt to post the brief thoughts/meditations/devotions/studies we do here for anyone’s benefit who swings by. Here is the first installment, last Wednesday’s meditation:

Secret Prayer

In Matt 6.5-6, Jesus is warning against ostentation in our lives as Christians, especially when it comes to prayer. The hypocrites (note, He’s not condemning just Pharisees here, for more than just the Pharisees can be hypocritical in their prayer lives) love to make a grand show of how pious they seem in their prayers. These are the types who will pray long, flowery prayers. At first listen, we think to ourselves, “My, what a wonderful pray-er this person is. He must surely have the very ear of God when he speaks.” But after a few more lines or phrases, we soon are thinking, “What’s this guy doing? What’s he talking about? He’s lost me completely and I wonder if God even knows what he’s talking about.” Well, says Jesus, they have their reward: there are some who pat them on the back, thank them for their grand prayer and then move on.

To His true followers, Jesus has other counsel: “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matt. 6.6, ESV)

First off, where is this room of which He speaks? NASB renders this “inner room”, as does the NIV. KJV calls it our “closet” from which many then speak about their “prayer closet.” The NLT has, “go away by yourself” which is perhaps closest to what Jesus is getting at: go somewhere you’ll not be seen except by God alone. CEV does much the same with “go into a room alone.” And finally, our “old friend” E. Peterson, over at The Message starts well, but as is often the case in this pseudo-paraphrase takes it way past where it should go: “…find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God.” (Matt. 6.6, The Message). I thought the role-playing was before men, but that’s beside the point for now. What Jesus is advocating here, in order to avoid simply getting your reward from man and not from God, go off alone for certain times of prayer. This does not preclude public prayers, such as those offered during our Sunday morning worship service. It does rule out doing those prayers, or any other type of public praying, with the motive to impress those who might be listening. Instead, Jesus says, you should go off in private, have some serious conversations with Your Father in heaven, that He alone will hear & judge as truly from your heart. Then, your reward will be that He hears you.

Jesus Himself sets a good example of this for us. Matthew 14.23, ESV says, “And after he had dismissed the crowds, he went up on the mountain by himself to pray. When evening came, he was there alone…” In Mark 6, upon feeding the 5,000, Jesus goes up on the mountain to pray. Prior to the final selection of the 12 disciples, Jesus spent the night alone in prayer (Luke 6.12). Even though, on the night of His agony & passion, there were a few of His closest disciples nearby, Jesus nevertheless prayed alone in the Garden (Luke 22.41).

Note too, that Jesus gives no specific instructions about what we are to be praying about when we go off in this private, secret place. But are these not the times when we can receive God’s chastening the best? Is this not the time for the confession of sin from a heart that is filled with contrition? And I have found, these are the sweetest times of communion with my Heavenly Father. The continuation of my spiritual life is fed by these times.

Which brings me to a closing thought: if we are sustained by, fed by, filled with grace by these times of secret prayer, would the tremendous absence of these times of secret prayer be the cause of the church’s great weakness to make an impact upon the world around us? Oh, that more and more Christians would give themselves over to extended times of private, fervent prayer before the Father. I know that our church, Cornerstone EFC, has no business expecting great things of God if we will not give ourselves over to much prayer, privately or corporately. God, forgive us for our presumption that You would work mightily through us and for us without seeking Your face in prayer.

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One Response

  1. I will help people who are suffering. This is the motive that I need plenty more belief, plenty more power of prayer and more Holy Ghost with me. Please pray also that God gives me gifts of God’s grace.

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