A Vote For The Prayer Closet

Mike Focht 12/22/2023

Personal time with God is indispensable. There are no substitutes for spending time in the Word and prayer. The growth and life produced in the individual believer as they get on their knees before an open Bible, whether for ten minutes or an hour, cannot be cultivated by any other means. God must be found by each son or daughter, in each and every day, for each and every moment of life. Unfortunately, what I am saying is familiar to most of our ears but unfamiliar to most of our lives. Fortunately, our Heavenly Father is patient and desires this spiritual interaction more than we do! 

   The Scriptures are filled with examples, commands, exhortations, and calls to seek God in His Word, prayer, praise, and fellowship. We often find the Son of Man alone early morning or night, praying to the Father or communing with Him. Jesus was also clear that this life of personal communion was something He expected from His disciples. He said, But you, when you pray, go into your room and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.

   There is simplicity and beauty in what Jesus clearly states. He expects prayer from His disciples. He expects prayer in a particular secluded place. He expects a secret interchange between a Father and child. Finally, He expects God the Father to respond to that secret life of communion in publicly recognizable ways. 

   Here we have a command of Christ that is right at the heart of what we would call Christian devotion. There are a lot of ideas out there about Christian devotional time and what that time should look like or how it should be structured. I would like to point out the three things these words of Jesus Christ bring to the surface. After all, He knows best. 

   First, we must have a shut-in life. The closets may look very different when it comes to being a mother of young children, a pastor, a businessman, or a college student, but we should all have some “closeted” place nonetheless. For some of us, we do not see God’s hand in our lives, though we are true Christians, because we have no time for Him! We lack public evidence because we lack private communion. Spiritual fruits have spiritual roots. Nothing of eternal value will ever grow without the light of God’s glorious presence. How it happens, Jesus does not explain. That it happens is without dispute.

   Second, God knows humanity. He does not need anyone to tell Him what is best for His creation. He knows that in our fallen state, we are prone to wander, prone to distraction, and prone to weakness. Sin has dulled our perceptions of His voice, His presence, and His Word. God knows we are so fragile that the lightest tug of daily life tends to pull us away from Him. So God encourages us to enter a closet, a place of peace, simplicity, and quiet—with little to no distraction. In our closet, we shut ourselves in to God and out of the world. 

   For those who find it challenging to seek God in private, pray without distraction, and corral stampeding thoughts to meditate on Him and His Word—this is His Word to us. The only way to learn is to practice. It is okay to learn to seek Him in a secret place. If we do not learn to commune with Him in the quiet of the closet, likely, we will never learn to commune with Him much, if at all, in the noise and commotion of daily life. God knows we need to start small. 

   We should all mature to be able to pray without ceasing and recognize that God is not far from any of us, but just because that type of prayer life is possible doesn’t mean it is presently true of us personally. We need to assess our life with God honestly, and if we are not finding Him regularly in the business of our schedules, then we need to change and enter a closet. Most of us need to learn to find God somewhere before we can walk with Him anywhere. God calls us to our closets because He knows we all need lessons on hallowed ground. We need to learn to remove our shoes. We need to learn to bow our heads. We need to learn to bend our knees. We need to learn to be humble before God. We need to learn to hear and obey His Word.

   Please let me be clear before I go further. There is nothing mystical or unique about the physical places themselves. The Creator of the heavens and the earth is not more in our closets than He is outside them. These places—our closets—become hallowed to us because it is there that we first learn to meet with God Almighty. I do not doubt that Moses’ burning bush was special to him, though no other man could tell that brush from another. There was nothing exceptional about the bush or that plot of desert sand. The ground was holy because the communion that happened there was holy. That was where God met Moses privately—it was Moses’ closet.

   Thirdly, we should be overjoyed and stirred by the promises that Jesus gives us despite knowing we are slow learners. Jesus promises that the Father will be in the place waiting. Happy to be shut in with us. Jesus promises that the Father sees us and knows us through and through. He will never be absent at the meeting place. Jesus promises that what happens in the secret place will affect our public places. The outcome will be a reward.

   God calls us to start in a private place of prayer. We do not end there, just as Moses did not, and just as Jesus’ disciples did not, but thinking that because we don’t end there means that we don’t begin there, may be very foolish! Christ casts His vote for the prayer closet, and I gladly place mine where I find His. May God give each of us a plot of holy ground, mature us, and teach us to carry the fire kindled there wherever we go.