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“But when you pray, go into
your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.
And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
Matthew 6:6 ESV

My biggest struggle as a believer is prayer. I
may present my prayer requests, or the requests of our church, but I
often find myself running through the list like I’m sitting in the lap
of Santa Claus. Like a child at Christmas, I know I’m probably not going
to get all the things on my list, but I hope I get some!

Is this really prayer? Is the “reward” of prayer mentioned above – getting more things on your prayer list?

I was reminded recently of a sweet season of
prayer in my life. I was a sophomore in college and lived in a small
house with 5 other students at JMU. In an attempt to escape the cramped
quarters of college living, I cleaned out a shed in the back yard. The
shed was filthy, full of old junk and spider webs. No one had been in
this shed for years. I spent a morning cleaning it up and throwing
things out. I found a folding chair and began using that as a place of
prayer. I had no idea how God was going to use that little “prayer
space” in my life. During that season, instead of a laundry list of
requests, I simply used the Word of God as a guide to bring me into the
presence of God. Once I sensed His presence, it was a beautiful place of
worship. The laundry list was thrown aside and I just enjoyed being in
God’s presence. There was the reward–being with my Father in secret.

Why don’t I remember to be in the presence of God and continually take things to Him? I can think of several reasons:

  • I am self-reliant.
  • I am busy.
  • I’m more interested in the stuff of this world.
  • I don’t really think prayer is effective. 

This convicts me to the core. Prayer is the
thermometer of belief, and I am often found to be cold. But rather than
beat myself up, I’m excited that God is convicting me. It means He
continues to pursue me and He continues to pursue you. I’m not trying to
heap guilt; I want to encourage.

Can you find a space and place? Space in your
calendar and a place in your home or office? What room you do you go
into and “shut the door”? My encouragement is to leave your laundry list
and just meet with God. I would recommend a couple books on prayer: 

  • “Experiencing the Depths of God” – Guyon
  • “With Christ in the Schoolhouse of Prayer” – Murray  
  • “Power through Prayer” – EM Bounds
  • “When God’s People Pray” – Cymbala 

More than anything, I challenge you to pray.
Pray with your spouse daily. Pray with your children often. Most
importantly, find a “space and place” and meet with your Father in
secret and He will meet you there. He will be your reward.

Todd+