But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Matthew 6:6 (NIV)
“Go to your room”. A statement that echoes of childhood punishment, a final ditch attempt to get your kids to behave, yelled in a frazzled moment of frustration.
“Go to your room”. A sulking teenager stomping up stairs and slamming doors, all hot tears and clenched fists.
“Go to your room”. The longing of a weary heart after a weary day pleading for just one moment of peace and quiet away from the noise and pain.
I wonder what Jesus meant when he told us to go to our room to pray. It could seem like punishment, like isolation, but is that the Jesus that we know? Maybe it is, maybe prayer for you is the place of struggle and silence and trying and failing.
Let me paint you a different picture of a different kind of room. I don’t know if you’ve ever read The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis. There’s a wonderful moment where Lucy, in a panic jumps into a closet to hide; her intention was to hunker down in the midst of the cloaks and stay as quiet as she could. Instead, to her great surprise she finds herself wide-eyed and jaw-dropped, smack bang in the middle of a beautiful adventure! What was once a cramped and silent closet exploded into something incredible, far beyond her wildest dreams! Prayer is the place of defied expectations. Prayer is the place of magnificent adventure.
I wonder what your ‘room’ looks like? Could your room be the park that you walk through everyday? Could it be your kitchen table where you laugh and cry with friends as well as sitting in the stillness? Could it be in the garden with your hands in the dirt planting new life? Maybe it’s your piano stool, or your journal or your sketchbook or easel. Rooms come in all shapes and sizes and in the Kingdom of Heaven the ‘rooms’ that we pray in were always meant to be places of wonder and adventure.
Maybe we need to ‘rehear’ Jesus say those words to us again. This time, picture him before you. He is gentle and kind and a smile works over his face as he reveals this wonderful secret to us. “…go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you”. He’s standing at the threshold to the spacious place of prayerful wonder, holding open the door for us, beckoning us in. He takes all our worries and fears into his arms and invites us to go exploring with him in the place of prayer. Go to your room!
Prayer & Prophecy at Central, Edinburgh.