But when you pray, go into your inner room, shut your door, and pray to your Father, who is unseen. And your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I. THE CIRCUMSTANCES OF THE PRAYER. Jesus is very explicit in regard to these details, although his object is simply to obtain reality and spirituality of worship, because we are largely influenced by the scenes among which we live. The private chamber and the closed door are necessary for the devotion which Christ approves of.
1. Unostentatiousness. This is readily secured. We cannot think of winning the applause of men when we have shut out all observers. Yet even here the danger may return if we let it he known that we resort to seclusion for prayer. Therefore the very act of retirement should be kept private.
2. Freedom from distraction. The noise and glare of the world are withdrawn, and we are left alone with God. This need not l)e in a room. Christ found it on the mountain.
3. A personal approach to God. Each soul must seek God separately. There is a loneliness of personality, a deep seclusion of the interior life. We do not really pray until we open this up to God.
II. THE OBJECT OF THE PRAYER. The end is not secured by the mere act of going into seclusion. We may carry the world into our chamber; and we shall do so if the world is in our hearts. We may not meet God there; and we shall not find him if he is "not in all our thoughts." The accessories are but favourable conditions. Still, we need the spiritual effort of devotion, which is to draw near to our Father - the highest act of human experience. When that is truly attained, the accessories cease to be very important. We may find the soul's secret chamber in the heart of a crowd, while walking through the busy street, or while rushing over the country in a railway carriage full of fellow-travellers, if we can withdraw our minds into inwardness of thought, into the seclusion of private meditation; we have but to shut to the door of observation, and we are alone with God. But this is only possible in proportion as our worship is a really spiritual approach to God. We have just to consider what worship is - not a performance, but a communion.
III. THE RESULT OF THE PRAYER.
1. Observed by God. He sees in secret. He sees the secret hollowness, vanity, falsehood, and blasphemy that lie behind the decorous worship of ostentation. He also sees the prayer that is but a thought,
"Prayer is the soul's sincere desire, Prayer is the burden of a sigh, 2. Rewarded by God. The reward of prayer is to hear and answer it. We are not to expect to be paid for our goodness in being unostentatious. It is enough that God meets us in secret prayer, that he condescends to respond and to visit our chamber, transforming it into a temple. That is the reward. - W.F.A.
Prayer is the burden of a sigh, 2. Rewarded by God. The reward of prayer is to hear and answer it. We are not to expect to be paid for our goodness in being unostentatious. It is enough that God meets us in secret prayer, that he condescends to respond and to visit our chamber, transforming it into a temple. That is the reward. - W.F.A.
2. Rewarded by God. The reward of prayer is to hear and answer it. We are not to expect to be paid for our goodness in being unostentatious. It is enough that God meets us in secret prayer, that he condescends to respond and to visit our chamber, transforming it into a temple. That is the reward. - W.F.A.
Enter into thy closet.I. The NATURE of prayer.
II. The KIND of prayer prescribed — "Enter into thy closet."
III. The OBJECT of prayer" Thy Father."
IV. The REWARD promised — "Reward thee openly."
(J. Pollock.)I. The duty.
II. The place.
III. The Spirit.
IV. The object.
V. The profit of prayer.
(T. Whitelaw, M. A.)
1. It is expressly commanded of God.
2. Are not the vows of God upon you for the performance of it?
3. Were ye not baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to worship them, and that in all parts of worship, of which prayer is a principal one?
4. Have not some of you been admitted to the Lord's table, when ye professed to renew your baptismal engagements?
5. Have ye not secret sins, secret wants, and secret temptations? And shall ye not have secret prayers adapted to each?
(Thomas Boston.)I. The DUTY of secret prayer. All the force of a command. It is more by example than by precept that this duty is enforced in Scripture. Is essential, because we have wants which can be presented before God in no other way. .No times are specified for the performance of this duty.
II. The proper MODE AND SEASON'S of secret prayer. If possible, a place to which we may retire and be alone with God. Set times. The appropriate seasons — early morning, evening, times of perplexity, etc.
III. The REWARDS AND ADVANTAGES of secret prayer. Furnishes the best test of piety. What is the "open reward"? Are you obeying the command?
(Dr. A. Barnes.)I. DIRECTIONS.
1. The place. As solitary as possible.
2. The Being. He is in secret — invisible — omniscient. Realization of the Divine presence.
3. The spirit — filial.
1. From the relation which He sustains.
2. From the prerogative which He exerts. He sees the suppliant.
3. From the reward which He bestows, present and future.
I. The duty and necessity.
II. The employments and enjoyments.
III. The many advantages.
IV. The lamentable consequences of neglecting secret devotion.
American Homiletic Monthly.I. It is a DUTY.
1. Because it is commanded.
2. Because indispensable to the religious life of the soul.
II. It is a PRIVILEGE.
1. Because it is communion with God.
2. Because it is priceless and seasonable. It is not like the Roman Porta Santa, which is opened but once in twenty-five years, with grand ceremonies, conducted by the highest dignitaries of the Church.
III. Its PRACTICE IS COMMENDED TO US.
1. By example of Christ.
2. By the observance of eminent saints.
IV. Its OBJECT.
1. TO be alone with God.
2. To cultivate heart-religion.
3. To obtain needed supplies of grace.
V. Its BENEFITS.
1. Its privacy promotes meditation and heart-scrutiny.
2. It favours the confession of such sins as are individual.
1. A command all followers of Christ will obey.
2. Some local "inner chamber not necessary." Every man can build a chapel in his breast.
(American Homiletic Monthly.)
(Salter.)e: — As the tender dew that falls in the silent night makes the grass and herbs and flowers to flourish and grow more abundantly than great showers of rain that fall in the day, so secret prayer will more abundantly cause the sweet herbs of grace and holiness to grow and flourish in the soul, than all those more open, public and visible duties of religion, which too, too often are mingled and mixed with the sun and wind of pride and hypocrisy.
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