Disable the Distractions that Destroy Your Time with God
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
You is a singular, personal, pronoun. You are a singular, personal, important child of God. You, not just your family. You, not just your church. You, not just your ministry friends. You, not just those who are known to have vibrant prayer lives. You! You are special to God. When God breathed the word su He meant you, was thinking of you, and trusted that you would read and heed these simple prayer principles. Eight times in our English translations in this verse a personal pronoun referring to you is used! It is hard to meditate on this verse without catching the obvious import of all these personal pronouns. Prayer is a personal thing. Although you can pray “for” others and others can pray “for” you, only you can personally talk to God from your heart. Others may know your needs, but they do not know your heart. So, if you are determined to remove distractions from your prayer life, daily remind yourself that God wants to hear from YOU! So, get alone with God. Remove yourself from others. Find your closet and go there—but don’t take anyone else with you. Just you . . . and God.
God wants to hear from YOU!
. . .when you pray . . .
When do you pray? It is interesting that God did not say when you preach on prayer, when you teach your children to pray, when you call on someone to pray, when you attend a prayer meeting, or when you share a prayer request with others. But, when you pray. When do you pray? Now, when Christ shared these truths in His Sermon on the Mount, He was not asking when they prayed—that was assumed. When do you pray? Most kids assume that their parents pray for them. Most church members assume that their pastors pray for them. Most who share prayer requests on any given Wednesday night assume that those who are writing those requests down pray for them. When you promise to pray for someone, those individuals assume that you will. When do you pray? For those husbands reading this article, we have to admit that our communication with God is often not much better than our communication with our wives. We clam up and don’t talk. We get too busy and don’t make the time to talk. We are tired and don’t feel like talking. We are so consumed with the stresses and pressures on our own lives that we forget about anything or anyone else. Even God! When do you pray? God assumes that you, as His redeemed child, would want to talk to Him! Is His assumption correct? When do you pray?
God assumes that you want to talk to Him!
. . . enter into your closet . . .
Where is your closet? The mental picture this phrase “enter into your closet” conjures up in anyone’s mind is dependent on their experience with closets. For some who have huge walk-in closets, there is plenty of room to walk in, move about, kneel, or even have a chair and a lampstand. We live in an old New England home, and typical of such homes, if you do have a bedroom closet, it is about big enough for five shirts, four pair of pants, three suit coats, two pair of shoes, and the famous partridge in a pair tree ornament on the top shelf. The word our Lord used for “closet” was used for any place of privacy where someone could not be easily seen or distracted. The ravens have no such hiding place (Luke 12:24); the same word was used to describe a barn referred to by Solomon (Prov. 3:10); Joseph ran to his private bedroom (“chamber”) to weep (Gen. 43:30); and Nathanael’s “closet” was under a fig tree (John 1:48). Our “closets” should be places prepared and set aside from distracting noises, distracting technology, and distracting people where we can privately meet with God and share our hearts with Him. As we have seen, it might be a barn, an office, a bedroom, a study, a basement, an attic, a porch, or even under a tree—but wherever it is, it is our secret, private, hiding place where we meet with God (without distractions) every day to pray.
Our Lord commands us to “enter” that closet. When? What block of time have you set aside to meet with God each day? What time do you refuse to schedule any meetings other than your meeting with God? Set a time and stick to it. If it means going to bed earlier so you can get up earlier, do it. If it means turning off your cell phone and disabling your e-mail during that time with God, do it. I have found that once everyone is up, everyone seems to want every bit of my time. So I have to schedule my time with my Lord when very few others are up. The early morning hours seem to have fewer distractions than any other time of the day. If you are not a morning person, become one. The learning curve will be hard for a while, but I promise you will get to the point where you will wake up earlier than planned and be excited about an extra half hour with your Lord. The simple command by our Lord Jesus Christ is, “Enter into thy closet,” which takes care of both the time and the place. So, when and where do you meet with God?
Have a set place and a set time that you meet with God.
To be continued…
Rand Hummel is the director of The Wilds of New England located in the peaceful, rural setting of Deering, New Hampshire. Each year he ministers to thousands of teenagers and their families. He has dedicated his life to encourage all ages “to hate sin and love God more.”
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