Closet Prayer

closet prayer

Closet Prayer

By, James L. Thornton

Matthew 6:5 “And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.”

In this verse, Jesus continues to stress the way the Scribes and Pharisees were performing their acts of worship. Here Jesus is telling us first of all how not to pray. He had observed their prayers, and the length of them, and the conspicuous places they chose to offer them. Jesus continues His theme that they did it for the show, to receive the applause of men. That is their entire reward for their prayer.

How not to pray.

Conspicuously: “In the corners of the streets,”

Loudly: “Standing in the synagogues.”

For a show: “To be seen of men.”

Making long prayers: “They think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.”

Saying the same thing over and over: “Use not vain (empty, non-verbal) repetitions.”

Correct Ways To Pray:

Matthew 6:6. 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.”

7. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.

8 Be not ye, therefore, like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.”

Now in these verses, Jesus is not attacking all night prayer meetings. But Jesus is concerned with the proper attitude, or motive in prayer. Don’t pray to attract the attention of others, neither be ‘time conscious.’ I have known people who kept a record of how much, and how long, they prayed, and then testify to the fact.

There are many prayers recorded in the Bible—some short—some long. We will look at one of the shortest prayers in the Bible, The prayer of Habakkuk, one verse long. Solomon’s prayer at the dedication of the Temple was 43 verses long 1 Kings 8:23-66. One of my favorite Old Testament Prayers was Jacob praying at Jabock Genesis 32:9-12, 130 words; it most closely meets Jesus’ model prayer in Matthew 6:9-13.

Jesus in the first 18 verses of Matthew 6, places the emphasis on not being hypocritical, or pretentious in our almsgiving, our prayers, and our fasting.

Matthew 6:6. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray…….”

We want to think about “When thou hast shut thy door.” There are some things which must be ‘shut out’ when we pray. ‘Shut thy door.’ You shut out and forget other people, whether we are praying in public or praying in secret. This is one door which must be shut.

God does not hear a prayer which is prayed to impress other people. I wonder if Brother is hearing my prayer, ‘shut that door.’ I want them to know I prayed all night last night, ‘shut that door.’

Another door which must be shut is yours. When I enter my closet full of self and thinking about myself, and priding myself on my prayer, ‘shut that door.’ I might as well be standing on the street corner. My door must exclude myself as well as other people. My heart has to be open entirely and only to God.

There will be many things which will try to crowd into your prayer closet. Jesus warns us about the “cares of this life.” He told Martha that she was, “Careful and troubled about many things.” All of this will try and crowd into your prayer closet. “Shut thy Door.”

When you are alone or on a busy street it is possible to shut the doors and be alone with God. The Psalmist had learned: Psalms 91:1 “He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

It is one thing to be touched by the shadow. It is another to “Abide by the Shadow.” Every person has or will be touched by God at some time or another….

To be touched is God’s work. To “Abide” requires the consent of your will. Enter into that “Secret Place” and shut some doors.

Psalms 19:14. Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.

God comes and listens and sends the answer, “When thou hast shut thy door,”

Miracles happen behind shut doors.

Elisha speaks to the widow: 2 Kings 4:4. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.” Behind the closed door, she poured oil into all the pots and pans in the neighborhood until all were full.

Let me tell you the story of Elisha and the Shunammite woman. (2 Kings 4:8-23) A little chamber was built upon the wall with a bed, table, stool, candlestick and a door where Elisha could sit, or kneel, or lay his head. There Prayer arose.

A boy was born to the woman and he brought joy to her home. One day the boy was stricken while he was in the field. He died a short time later on his Mother’s knees.  2 Kings 4:21. And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out.

“It shall be well”

She made a hurried trip to where the Man of God was.

2 Kings 4:32-33. And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed.

33. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD.  (Behind a Closed Door)

34 And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and he stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm.

35 Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes.” (All this happened behind closed doors)

Pray in Faith:

Matthew 6:6.  “……pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

8.  “…..for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.

Paul speaks in:

Ephesians 3:20. Now unto him, that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.” (Limited only by our faith in Him)

Finally, we must have confidence. He is more ready to give than we are to receive. We come with the simple confidence of a child. Remember God is our Father.

The Prayer of Habakkuk:

Jewish Scribes say He was of the Tribe of Levi. Nothing else is known about Him. The Chaldeans had over-thrown Judah and taken them into the land from which God had called their father Abraham (for 70 years).

It was most probably during these years that Habakkuk lived. Led into captivity by the cruelest race of people, that history speaks of. Times were hard, to say the least. (God’s Judgment)

They would be refined as silver under these afflictions and then God would return Judah to her land. For after all, in the loins of one of these exiles was the seed which would bring forth the Savior of the World.

Habakkuk had never seen the blessings of God. He had never seen God work a miracle. (But faith stands the strain). But in those difficult times, Habakkuk felt the burden to prophesy.

Habakkuk 2:20. But the LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him.

Following is Habakkuk fantastic prayer.

Habakkuk 3:2. O LORD, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O LORD, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy.

Our fathers have told us of thy mighty works of old. Blow on the dying embers and rekindle the flame. Make it known and “Revive Thy Works.” The next verse tells us that God came.

Habakkuk had faith that sings in times of great stress:

Habakkuk 3:17 “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labor of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls:

18 Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation.

19 The LORD God is my strength, and he will make my feet like hinds’ feet, and he will make me to walk upon mine high places.”

Let the worst come, my faith sings. Thought the barns be empty—the fields are barren and the pastures are desolate—let the worst come—let utter ruin and starvation come—yet faith will be found singing behind closed doors.

No matter what happens let your faith sing behind closed doors. Jesus told His disciples “Your joy no man taketh from you.”

2 Corinthians 1:8 “For we would not, brethren, have you ignorant of our trouble which came to us in Asia, that we were pressed out of measure, above strength, insomuch that we despaired even of life:

9 But we had the sentence of death in ourselves,”

There on the floor of the Philippian jail, Paul lay, flogged, and fettered, and sleepless, in great pain, at midnight he was singing praises to God. God heard him behind those closed doors sent an earthquake and opened those closed doors.

Matthew 6:32 “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.”

We could read this section of the Lord’s teaching on prayer in such a way as to really miss Jesus’ entire point and teaching, and certainly without coming under condemnation. The tendency always when reading this is just to regard it as an exposure of the Pharisees. We point the finger toward the obvious hypocrite; never could we see ourselves in these verses. Jesus, we say, is talking about someone who is calling attention to themselves.

Prayer can be a battleground. Daniel prayed for 21 days, and Satan withstood the answer for 21 days, and Michael, an Arch-Angel, broke through the resistance to bring an answer to his prayer (Daniel 10:13).

Prayer can be a wrestling match.

“Are you still wrestling with the devil? A young man asks of an old man.

“No” replied the old man. “He’s got old and weaker, and I’m old—Now I wrestle with God.”

“With God?” Replied the young man. “Do you hope to win?”

“No, My son I hope to lose.”

I hope you are wrestling with God. And I hope you lose.

By, James L. Thornton



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