“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:6
Eight times in the space of this verse is the pronoun used in the singular number and the second person–a thing unique in all Scripture–as though to emphasize the indispensability, importance and value of private prayer. Private prayer is the test of our sincerity, the index to our spirituality, the principle means of growing in grace. Private prayer is the one thing above all others that Satan seeks to prevent, for he knows full well that if he can succeed at this point, the Christian will fail at every other.
Alas, how remiss we have been, how sadly we have failed to discharge this duty, and what irreparable losers are we by this sinful neglect. Shall this year witness a repetition of the sad failures of the past?
It is the exercising of ourselves in secret prayer that distinguishes us from hypocrites who go through their religious exercises merely to be seen of men. The hypocrite places a far higher value upon the applause of his fellows than he does upon the approbation of his Maker.
It is striking to note that God has often granted the freest communications of himself to those who were before him in secret. It was so with Moses on the mount, when Jehovah gave him the Law–and again when he gave him the pattern for the tabernacle. It was while Daniel was engaged in private prayer that God sent his angel to reveal to him the secrets of his counsel concerning the restoration of Jerusalem and the duration thereof, even unto the Messiah. It is in the secret prayer closet that God usually bestows his sweetest and choicest blessings. Cornelius was highly commended and graciously rewarded upon the account of his private prayer. Peter was granted that wondrous vision concerning the Gentiles while praying alone.
Let us now make a few suggestions on how this duty is to be performed. First, reverently. In all our approaches to God, we should duly consider his exalted majesty and ineffable holiness and humble ourselves before him. Second, sincerely. We cannot be too strongly or too frequently warned against that mere external worship to which we are so constantly prone. Third, submissively. Our petitions should ever be presented with the provision, “If it be Thy will.” Fourth, confidently. He bids us “come boldly unto the Throne of Grace, that we may obtain mercy.” Fifth, fervently. It is not sufficient that our tongues babble out a mere form; our hearts must be in this work. It is a striving in prayer. – A.W. Pink