Matthew 6:7-15 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV)
7 “When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
9 “Pray then in this way:
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name.
10 Your kingdom come.
Your will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread.[a]
12 And forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13 And do not bring us to the time of trial,[b]
but rescue us from the evil one.[c]
14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; 15 but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
In Matthew 6:6, Jesus instructs us to pray in secret. Why? Because it’s our inward secret desires that determine our outward public actions.
Do we desire transformation through union with God more than we desire recognition through public proclamation?
Like a buried seed cocooned by sun-warmed earth and nourished by unseen rains, when we shroud ourselves in God’s secret presence, we begin to align our inner desires with our outward behaviors. We allow private and personal warmth to love us, invisible waters to nourish us. Fully sated, we emerge as a gift to the world, blooming with love and forgiveness.
And here, just one verse later, Jesus continues this theme of placing our primary focus on God and His work when we pray. Jesus already knows what we personally need before we ask, and He is sending sunshine and rain there now. With all our needs of life already being met abundantly, He calls us to align our desires with His, align our hearts with His work in His Kingdom.
What does your Father already know you need before you even ask, perhaps even before you are aware enough to ask?
Do you have a rhythm of life that allows for prayer that is cocooned secretly in His presence?
During this season of Lent, what new habits or rhythms can you intentionally establish over the next few weeks to cultivate this secret prayer life?