Listen to this devotional:
Listen while you read: "Happy The Home When God Is There"1 (Lyrics)
This heading might not remind you of the Lord's Prayer, which is normally associated with corporate worship. But today, I present the Lord's Prayer as a personal prayer — and, I'd say, the best "closet" prayer ever. You'll see.
Jesus gave the prayer to His disciples as an alternative to the prayer habits of religious authorities. They would pray publicly, babbling with great flourish so that all would be impressed. Jesus saw through the drama and called it playacting. "When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites," He said. (Matthew 6:5a NIV)
"But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen" (Matthew 6:6a NIV). That's when Jesus offered a model for prayer. It became known as The Lord's Prayer.
"When thou prayest, enter into thy closet" says Jesus (Matthew 6:6a KJV). What an effective antidote for hypocrisy! In the "closet" (that is, in privacy), we don't perform for others; no one is watching. In our "closet" we are alone. We may actually feel miserably alone. God may seem far away, and our words get smothered in the coats. At first, we find little to say. Yet, we persevere. At last, we break through the barrier and reach for heaven itself, calling, "God, You Who dwell in a realm beyond my self-absorbing here-and-now preoccupations — I want to connect with You!" Now, we are ready to pray as the Lord taught — something like this:
"Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven." (Matthew 6:9b-10 NIV)
Such praying catapults us beyond our here-and-now realm into an infinite, eternal realm: heaven itself. We've turned our heads to face the Almighty. We centre on God: God's location, God's reputation, God's domain of rule, God's will. We cry out, "O Lord, I want You to be known as a holy God! I long for Your kingdom to penetrate the spiritual darkness and advance across humanity by Your powerful love, expressed through Your followers! I want whatever You want!
Now, we're halfway through the Lord's Prayer. So far, it's been about God. That's a good start. When we get centred on God for Who He is and what He does, we sense our own frailty and sinfulness. Now, we pray for ourselves: our temporal needs, forgiveness, and protection from evil. God hears such praying because, through His loving care for us, His nature is revealed on earth — just as we prayed from the start.
Furthermore, in our "closets", we discover that we're not alone. We're with a vast family of brothers and sisters, all seeking our Father from their own "closets". They, too, are praying as Jesus taught. What a glorious thought!
Wouldn't you agree that in its essence, the Lord's Prayer is the best "closet" prayer ever?
Prayer: Heavenly Father, today, from our own "closets", we cry out: Thy kingdom come! Fill this land with Your glory; flood the nations with grace and mercy; send forth Your Word, Lord, and let there be light! Amen!