How to Pray
Open Your Bible
Matthew 6:5-8, 2 Kings 4:32-37, Isaiah 26:20, Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 1:35-38, Luke 18:9-14
Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:5-8, 2 Kings 4:32-37, Isaiah 26:20, Matthew 26:36-46, Mark 1:35-38, Luke 18:9-14
My copy of C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe smells like hot asphalt and recess kickball. With grass stains and dog-eared pages, the book was on my third grade required reading list, but my time spent feasting on the adventures of Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy was anything but forced. I spent every moment I could nose-deep in its chapters, only looking up from the playground outfield if my name was called out (at least twice), or if my face was hit with a ball (just once).
The most tattered and beloved pages of that book are in the beginning chapters—before the lion or the witch are even introduced. It’s the wardrobe that got me. Lucy, the youngest, is the first to wander into her uncle’s neglected spare room and open the wardrobe doors, finding the forest dreamland of Narnia just beyond them. One of my favorite lines is easy to miss, because it’s just before she steps foot into the newly discovered world:
“She did not shut [the wardrobe door] properly because she knew that it is very silly to shut oneself into a wardrobe, even if it is not a magic one.”
We are hesitant to close the door on the world we love, even when an even better one awaits us. Even the most adventurous child is hesitant to explore in secret. But in teaching us how to pray, Jesus says to “go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Matthew 6:6). He instructs us to approach the Lord from a secret place, unlike the hypocrites who stand on the street corners yelling for their Father. Isaac left for a field, Christ retreated to a mountain, Peter went to a rooftop.
While this is a great warning against hypocrisy, these actions point us more toward the realm we enter into with prayer than the world we leave behind when we retreat—and it’s way better than Narnia. Prayer is the place where we do our most God-honoring work. Alone with Christ is where we remember that we can trust in Him alone.
It’s not that our Father doesn’t want others to know we’re talking to Him; it’s that He wants us to know who He is apart from others and the distractions of this world. We must intentionally and physically practice that truth that He is always near—we are never alone. If we don’t make a point to to “go away” from the world and pray, we will miss this. If Lucy had stood outside the wardrobe speculating about the possibility of Narnia, she and her siblings would have been left, as the book describes, “always in winter but never Christmas.”
The world is loud and familiar, but it does not see us and know us the way Jesus does. He is better, and He waits to meet with us in the secret places of our hearts that are not secret to Him.
Heavenly Father, we confess it is difficult to close the door to a noisy world. But You alone know and offer what we really need. Teach us how to pray when we don’t know where to start. Help us to form words that are vulnerable and true, for they bring You glory. Amen.