Matthew 6 - God is there when we pray
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.Matthew 6:6
Have you ever felt like the prophets of Baal? Remember the story in 1 Kings 18? They prayed, calling out, "O Baal, hear us!" They kept it up from morning until lunch time. Lunch time came and went, and still they kept it up: dancing, shouting, and calling on the name of their god! "But," says 1 Kings 18:29, "there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention." Have you ever felt like the prophets of Baal? You say, "Whoa, funny question." But have you?
You pray to God. You pray some more. But at times there seems to be no response. No one answers. No one seems to be paying attention. And sometimes we get to the point of thinking, "Why bother praying? It makes no difference in any way."
But here Matthew 6:6 is so wonderfully comforting: "But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen." The word translated as "room" in this verse is a word that indicates a room in the interior of the house. When the disciples heard that word, they would have thought of the storage room in a house. In those days that was the only interior room that had a door. Jesus wants his disciples to go to such a private and quiet room, shut the door, and there commune with God.
Here is instruction for us as God's children. One of the first things to do when we struggle with our prayer life is to make a point of regularly going to our room or to some other place where we can quietly pray to God. Your Father in heaven wants to hear from you!
You know that many today scoff at the idea of regular quiet times for prayer. The thinking is that a genuine prayer must be spontaneous and on the spot. And to be sure, there is a time for such a prayer. But Jesus' instruction teaches us that there is to be something very deliberate and purposeful about prayer: "When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father who is unseen."
There is something else we need to see in Matthew 6:6. Jesus is talking about prayer and he speaks of God as "Father." That is telling. God reveals himself in his Word not only as Almighty God, but also as our Father. That is why the Lord's Prayer begins the way it does. Inside that quiet, inner room when you begin to pray and say "Our Father in heaven," that address draws you close to him. It brings you into the presence of the God of heaven and earth.
Perhaps you read that and are saying to yourself: "But God doesn't feel like a Father. In fact, when I go to pray, God doesn't even feel like he is there." Yet notice what the verse says, "When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen." Literally the words say, "And pray to your Father who is in the hidden."
What does this reveal to us about the Father? That when you go into your inner room, your quiet and private place to pray, then your Father isn't far away and unable to reach you or be with you. But he is there. Again, sometimes it doesn't feel like that, does it? You pray, and the words feel like they go nowhere. You pray, and it is as if the ceiling and walls are made of prayer-proof dry wall – the prayer just doesn't seem to go up to God. But Jesus says it very clearly: when you pray to your Father, he is in that secret or private place with you.
He hears our prayers when they are spoken in spontaneous joy. He hears them when they are just a groan coming from a heart heavy with worry. He hears them when they are barely audible whispers coming from lips that are dying. He hears them when they are thoughts that we struggle to put together in a coherent fashion. The Father is there with you when you pray. Jesus Christ said so!