But whenever you pray, go into your innermost chamber. Matthew 6:6 (TPT)
Innermost Prayers – A Pretty Important Prayer – Part 2
I’m fairly sure that Jesus was an introvert.
He took off on his family at twelve, after which there are no stories or tales or recordings of him. None.
When we do hear about him again, He’s a lone Rabbi looking for disciples in less than respectable places.
Then, he took off again and this time wandered the desert alone(ish) for 40 days and nights, which was a bit rude of him because he missed Sabbath rituals and temple services.
He was constantly taking off, sneaking out before dawn, leaving everyone behind…
In ancient Hebrew tradition, a lot of prayer was done in a lot of public places and ways.
But when Jesus was “teaching” his disciples how to pray (read yesterday's devotion…), he said:
“Whenever you pray, be sincere and not like the pretenders who love the attention they receive while praying before others in the meetings and on street corners. Believe me, they’ve already received in full their reward.” (Matt 6:5 TPT).
Public prayer can be beautiful and powerful; sometimes hypnotic and soothing. But not everyone who prays in public is sincere.
I've prayed on stages and in front of crowds, and I know first hand that it’s easy to get up and say words that you know you will be applauded and cheered and elicit a passionate “AMEN.” It’s easy to stand before a crowd and fill a space with rhetoric and noise and claps and “Hallelujahs.” In fact, many of us Pastors knew just what to say and how to say it to create fervor. It’s easy to create noise in a moment of hyped up, intense public prayer.
The reward for public prayer is simply in its being “witnessed.” And I have to admit (confession), I’ve reveled in moments of public prayer and the respect and applause and the seemingly powerful position it placed me in. It gave my rep (and my ego) a leg up.
Jesus was teaching the disciples (teaching us still) that there is more to prayer than our public words; there is more to prayer than our words being witnessed and heard and applauded. There is more to prayer than words and form and structure and ceremony.
“But whenever you pray, go into your innermost (introvert) chamber and be alone with Father God, praying to him in secret…” (Matt 6:6 TPT).
Since most people in Jesus day had houses with only one or two rooms, this was an interesting suggestion: go into your innermost chamber and pray in secret. Perhaps Jesus innermost chamber was a mountain, a lake, and a dessert. Or even silence – His own heart and interiors.
Perhaps it was an invitation for the disciples to embrace emptiness and solitude. Instead of filling up space with noise, empty it out into quiet; into Presence.
It’s one thing to talk; it's another to listen, it's another thing again to simply ‘BE' in the presence of God. A place where words seem inadequate. A place that's electric with connectivity and breath and spirit… transformation.
“Western culture has tended to be an extroverted culture and a “can-do” culture. Prayer too easily became an attempt to change God and aggrandize ourselves instead of what it was meant to be – an interior practice to change the one who is praying, which will always happen if we stand calmly before this uncanny and utterly safe Presence, allowing the Divine Gaze to invade and heal our unconscious, the place where 95 percent of our motivations and reactions come from. All we can really do is return the gaze.” Richard Rohr, from the “Naked Now“.
Written by Lizzy Milani