v 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
The practice of praying in public was well-established in Jesus’ day. There were individuals who wanted to be seen praying and who therefore did so in the streets and in the public space of the synagogues. Jesus says that their reward was just public esteem – and nothing more. They got a kind of 10/10
for being really religious; but Jesus saw it as all outward show and attention-seeking hypocrisy.
Jesus therefore recommends private prayer: praying behind closed doors so that others are unaware of the practice. The important thing is to pray without making it a public show of piety. That does not prevent us from praying together either as a family or as a church congregation provided that we keep in mind that we are not ‘performing’ to gain any credit for ourselves as fluent or powerful pray-ers. Better a few sincere words than a long and impressive catalogue of requests that take us round the world and back!
However we pray, stop for a moment to reflect on what we are doing. The insignificant, earth-bound, short-lived me is in conversation with the majestic, universe-creating, eternal God and Father. This is an eye-popping and incredible truth. A human being can be in communion with the Creator, bringing both worship and requests to One who is the source of all being.
Almighty God, I am still amazed that you accept me as your child and welcome me into your presence as I pray. Thank You. AMEN.