â€œAnd when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret , will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like the pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.â€ Matthew 6:5-8 (NIV)
Jesus’ words must have been very interesting to those who were listening.
The word ‘hypocrites’ in this case were the church leaders. They were the ones who made sure everyone saw their praying â€“ very public and usually very loud and long! â€œDon’t do that!â€ Jesus says. â€œIf you do, you will receive all you are going to receive in that moment!â€
Jesus says to go into your room (KJV says ‘closet’) and shut the door and then pray. Most dwellings in those days were a single room. There may have been curtains to create a bedroom but few had actual doors. Do you think that Jesus meant we should find that private place within ourselves? Jesus certainly gave the example of going up into the mountains before dawn or late at night to find some privacy for Himself. â€œGet private so you can get real and the Father will see you!â€
Jesus says I do not have to say many words. I do not have to explain myself. The words that I say in prayer are for my benefit â€“ not for God’s! It seems that is why He uses the word ‘babbling’. I can say as many words as I need to in order to make it clear to myself but I do not have to keep saying words to get God’s attention or help Him understand! Chants and mantras are not God! God knows!
Prayer is conversation with God. I have one mouth and two ears so I should use them accordingly! However, in my private prayer, I have also found that whether speaking the words aloud or writing them in a journal, I can learn from God’s Spirit as the words concretely come out. I can hear/see the truth vs. emotion of what is going on. I can hear/see God sift through the words and bring the truth to me. What peace and joy floods the soul when God speaks!
It is amazing, beyond amazing, that God desires to have a relationship with me. God want s to spend time with me every day. He wants it to be more than just a passing, obligatory prayer recited from memory with no feeling. God wants me to give a prayer from my heart that speaks my true feelings. It doesn’t have to be pretty or poetic â€“ just me, as I am.
Go ahead. Pray right now. God is waiting and listening.