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Summary: No matter how often we pray each day, we still need to have that time of solitary intimacy with our Heavenly Father.

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PRAYER! THE MOST UNIVERSALLY PRACTICED YET LEAST UNDERSTOOD OF HUMAN EXPERIENCES, PRAYER IS ONE OF THE GREAT MYSTERIES OF THE CHRISTIAN FAITH.

THE SIMPLEST DEFINITION OF PRAYER IS COMMUNICATION WITH GOD. THE EMPHASIS IS ON THE WORD “WITH” BECAUSE PRAYER IS NOT ONLY COMMUNICATION WITH GOD, BUT COMMUNION WITH GOD IN A PERSONAL AND INTIMATE WAY.

PRAYER IS NOT TALKING “AT” GOD AS IF WE ARE SIMPLY GATHERING A WISH LIST AND SENDING IT UP TO HEAVEN AS A “VERBAL E-MAIL” FOR GOD TO CONSIDER.IT HAS BEEN AND ALWAYS WILL BE ABOUT INTERACTING WITH GOD PERSONALLY.

PSALM 145:18, SAYS THAT “OUR PRAYERS BRING US INTO GOD’S PRESENCE.” SO, WHETHER WE STAND, LIE DOWN, OR KNEEL TO PRAY; CLOSE OUR EYES AND REMAIN SILENT OR WALK AROUND AND TALK OUT LOUD, WE MUST NEVER FORGET THAT WE ARE IN THE PRESENCE OF GOD AND THAT HE WANTS TO SPEAK TO US, TOO.

ANOTHER BEAUTIFUL WAY TO LOOK AT PRAYER WAS WRITTEN BY PASTOR STEVE MALONE, WHO SAID, “PRAYER IS COMING INTO THE PRESENCE OF GOD…PRAYER IS ENTERING THE THRONE ROOM OF THE KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS…PRAYER IS TAKING OUR CONCERNS TO THE ONE WHO CARES FOR ME PRAYER IS TO STAND ON HOLY GROUND…PRAYER IS COMMUNICATING WITH THE CREATOR OF THE WORLD…PRAYER IS A CHILD TALKING TO HIS FATHER…PRAYER IS BRINGING OUR HURTS TO THE FATHER OF COMPASSION AND THE GOD OF ALL COMFORT…PRAYER IS REACHING OUT TO OUR REDEEMER…PRAYER IS CRYING OUT TO THE ROCK THAT IS HIGHER THAN WE ARE...PRAYER IS CALLING OUT TO THE ONLY ONE WHO CAN SAVE US…PRAYER IS TOUCHING THE ONE WHO LOVES US WITH AN UNFAILING & UNQUENCHABLE LOVE…PRAYER IS BRINGING OUR QUESTIONS TO THE ONE WHO HAS THE ANSWERS...PRAYER IS REACHING OUT TO THE NEVER; TIRED, CONFUSED, AFRAID OR TAKEN BY SURPRISE GOD…PRAYER IS CONNECTING OUR LIVES WITH THE ALL KNOWING, ALL PRESENT – AND ALL POWERFUL KING OF KINGS…PRAYER IS COMING NEAR TO GOD…."

IN MY PERSONAL OPINION, I FEEL THAT IF I AM COMING INTO GOD’S PRESENCE AND WILL BE DIRECTING MY ENERGIES ON COMING NEAR TO HIM, I WOULD WANT FREE MYSELF OF ANYTHING THAT COULD DISRUPT THIS OR DISTRACT ME FROM IT.

I THINK THIS IS ONE OF THE REASONS WHY JESUS PUT SUCH EMPHASIS ON PRAYER IN OUR SCRIPTURE PASSAGE TODAY. JESUS TELLS US THAT WHEN WE PRAY, WE NEED TO “GO INTO OUR ROOM” BY OURSELVES, “SHUT THE DOOR” BEHIND US, AND PRAY TO OUR FATHER SECRETLY.

JESUS NOT ONLY TEACHES THIS MODEL OF PRAYER, BUT LIVED IT AS MARK 1:35, SAYS, “VERY EARLY IN THE MORNING, WHILE IT WAS STILL DARK, JESUS GOT UP, LEFT THE HOUSE AND WENT OFF TO A SOLITARY PLACE, WHERE HE PRAYED.”

SO, WHAT DOES ALL OF THIS MEAN? WHAT’S THE SECRECY AND THE PRIVACY ALL ABOUT? WELL, LET ME FIRST TELL YOU WHAT IT IS NOT! IT IS NOT A STATEMENT AGAINST PUBLIC PRAYER NOR IS IT A WARNING AGAINST REPEATING OUR PRAYERS.

WITH THAT SAID, I THINK IT IS JESUS WANTING US TO KEEP OUR MOTIVES FOR PRAYING IN CHECK. IT IS THE SIMPLE TRUTH THAT WHY ONE PRAYS WILL DETERMINE HOW ONE PRAYS.

IN OTHER WORDS, OUR MOTIVE FOR PRAYING MUST BE SEEKING COMMUNION WITH OUR FATHER. IT CANNOT BE A ONE-SIDED CONVERSATION THAT IS NOTHING MORE THAN AN EMPTY RECITATION OF WORDS AND STATEMENTS.

THAT IS WHY TODAY’S MESSAGE IS ENTITLED “SHUTTING OUR DOORS TO PRAY,” SO THAT WE CAN EXPLORE THIS INTRIGUING PASSAGE THAT PLACES EMPHASIS ON GETTING AWAY FROM THE EVERY DAY DISTRACTIONS SO THAT WE CAN SEEK PRIVACY, SECRECY, AND INTIMACY WITH OUR HEAVENLY FATHER IN PRAYER.

WITH SUCH PRAYER, WE ARE TOLD TO GO INTO OUR ROOM OR AWAY BY OURSELVES. THE GREEK WORD “TAMEION” WHICH MEANS “STOREROOM” REFERS TO A PLACE THAT AFFORDS PRIVACY.

IN JEWISH CULTURE, A “STOREROOM” WAS ONE OF THE INNER ROOMS OF THE HOUSE THAT WAS NOT ONLY SECLUDED AND PROBABLY WINDOWLESS, BUT THE ONLY DOOR IN THE HOUSE THAT HAD A LOCK ON IT.

A “SECRET PLACE” IS THE PERFECT PLACE. A SECRET PLACE FREE OF INTERRUPTIONS AND DISTRACTIONS. A PERFECT PLACE THAT AFFORDS BOUNTIFUL CONCENTRATION!

YES, IT IS NICE TO BE ABLE TO PRAY WHILE DRIVING TO WORK OR WHILE WALKING AROUND THE MALL. PRAYER IS ALSO A GREAT ASSET WHEN STANDING IN LINE AT THE STORE OR WHILE WATCHING TV OR RELAXING TO THE SOUNDS OF A FAVORITE CD/RECORD.

PRAYER IS ALSO A POWERFUL SOURCE WHEN YOU SEE AN AMBULANCE BLAZING DOWN THE STREET WITH LIGHTS AND SIRENS TO PRAY FOR THOSE ABOARD AND ON THE WAY TO THE HOSPITAL OR PRAYING SILENTLY FOR PARENTS WHO SEEM TO BE STRUGGLING TO PACIFY A CRYING BABY OR NOTABLY STRESSED WITH TRYING TO CONQUER A RAMBUNCTIOUS TODDLER.

BUT WHATEVER THE CASE MAY BE AND WHATEVER OPPORTUNITY ARISES FOR US TO PRAY FOR, THERE STILL MUST COME A TIME WHERE WE STEP OUTSIDE THE WORLD AND FIND A SOLITARY PLACE TO COMMUNE WITH OUR FATHER.

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