Why do we have to “close the door” when we pray?

A couple of months ago my husband and I decided to adopt/rescue an 11 year old cat that had lost its owner and ended up in the shelter. She spent months in that little box they kept her in and took quite a while to adapt to her new home. At first I thought she was just anxious and nervous because she didn’t know us. But as the weeks have gone on, she has settled down. There are two things that have not changed with her, however. She has not gained weight from her original 7 pounds, no matter how much I feed her, and she sleeps very little. Unlike our other cat, Jack, who is a total couch potato and spends his days sleeping, Penny, likes to roam the house. She hates closed doors like most cats and seems to never stop moving. No doubt it’s why she is so thin. As I sat here this morning, reading my Bible and praying, I couldn’t help but think about how distracting she is. She wants into my room, she wants out of my room. She eats, then chases Jack, then eats again. Never ending commotion. To say it is difficult to focus on the Word and spend time in prayer is an understatement. But as I persevered, the Lord brought a scripture to mind that I had never really thought much about. 

In Matthew 6:6 Jesus tells us:  “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.” Truthfully, I’ve always focused on the part about rewards, although I wasn’t really sure what He meant by all this. Well today, He opened this scripture to me in a new way and showed me what He was referring to. 

The word that is translated as “room” in this scripture is actually referring to a secret chamber. I don’t have any secret chambers in my house, but I do have a room that is quiet and free of distraction. At least it was until Penny came into our world. Before she came, I would go into my room, close the door and spend time with the Lord. It was our “secret” place, if you will. Most mornings, I had no trouble focusing on Him and the Bible. But no more. I realized that if I was going to regain my secret chamber, where I could focus on Him and Him alone, I would have to train my cat. That sounds almost funny, if you know cats. But nonetheless, if I want my peace to return to me, she needed to stay out of my room and learn not to knock. Yes, cats knock on doors. It’s quite annoying. 

As I pondered on all of this, I realized that what was happening to me, happens to all of us. This world is full of commotion, distraction and activity. We have phones, iPads, computers etc. etc. to endlessly distract us. These distractions will continue, unless we do something about them. If I cannot focus on the Lord, then I need to remove distractions from my life. It’s my responsibility to go into my secret place and shut the door. No one will do it for me. 

There is something that I have learned however, from life before Penny the cat. The Father has rewarded me over and over again, when I make the effort to be alone with Him. Because I take time to read His Word, I know His Word. When someone tries to deceive me by twisting the Word of God, I usually can spot the red flags. Because I take time to pray and to listen, I have learned what His voice sounds like. Jesus made it very clear that we are to know His voice. (John 10:27)  “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.” 

There are rich rewards in knowing the Lord. But we can only receive those rewards if we take the time to be with Him and get to know Him. Just as with any relationship, this requires time and effort. If you are struggling to focus on the Lord, if you are having trouble reading His word, may I suggest that you “close the door”? Turn off the distractions, get up earlier when the world is still quiet and resolve to spend that time with the Lord. He has promised that you will be richly rewarded!

Spending Time with Jesus

One of my favorite things about spending time with the Lord is that I never know what He’s going to tell me. It kind of reminds me of the story in Exodus 16 where God sent the Israelites Manna every single morning and they looked at it and said “What is it?” As I reread the story this morning I noticed something new that I had never seen before. They didn’t just eat this Manna, they actually baked and boiled it so that it become something else. (Exodus 16:23) They ground it up and turned it into bread, for example. To sum up the story, they had to go out and gather it. Then they had to grind it up and bake or boil it to create some kind of “processed” food. The more I pondered on this story, the more I realized that I can in fact apply what they experienced, to my own life today. Every morning I have to get up and gather fresh Manna from the Lord. I never know what it will be. Sometimes I even ask Him “Lord, what is this?” So what is this “modern day Manna”? It’s His Word, His Spirit, His presence, His voice. He provides all those things for me if I am a believer. But it is my job to get up and gather His “Manna” every morning. After I read His Word, I have to “process” what He is trying to tell me. That takes time. It takes effort. Just like bread takes time to prepare and bake, it takes time to eat the Bread of Life, Jesus. Solomon tells us in Proverbs 25:2 “God conceals the revelation of His word in the hiding place of His glory. But the honor of kings is revealed by how they thoroughly search out the deeper meaning of all that God says. (Passion Translation) Why is it so important for me to do this every day? The Lord tells me in Exodus 16:4: “Behold, I will rain bread from heaven for you. And the people shall go out and gather a certain quota every day, that I may test them, whether they will walk in my law or not”. Obviously, we do not walk in the law anymore. But I do believe that God tests my heart, to see how much I am listening to Him, to see how much I am obeying His Word. Jesus tells us in John 6:53-58 that He is the bread that came down from heaven and that “He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in Me, and I in him”. Jesus was not just referring to communion, which he had not even taught His disciples yet. This is about getting up and spending time with Him every single day, reading His Word, and listening for His voice. Did you look for Manna this morning?

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