Corporate Prayer, Closet Mentality

Jesus had some strong words for those whose prayers bounce right off of heaven to fall upon the admiring ears of a much more human audience. "And when you pray," He says in Matthew 6:5, 6, "do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. 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."

There is plenty of biblical basis for corporate prayer. The Lord's Prayer begins with "Our Father…" The church met to pray Peter out of prison. The Lord isn't saying that corporate prayer is to be avoided, but rather practiced with a closet mentality—as though no one else were present but God and I.

That's hard, even when we don't pray for the purpose of being admired for our eloquent prayers. We are only too conscious of the presence of others when we pray, often fitting our words to minister to them. In the rightness of that gesture lies a hidden danger—the direction of our prayers changes.

"Lord, when I pray accompanied by others, close the door of my mind, shut me in with You, and You alone."

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