"But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Matthew 6:6
It is interesting to note that when Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, he first taught them where to pray. This may seem strange as we all tend to believe we can pray anywhere at anytime. But Jesus teaches us to pray in private, which is something we should learn as believers.
In the first century, the Pharisees (ultraconservative, fundamentalist legalists who see God in terms of rules, regulations, and religion) loved to pray in two places--the synagogue and the street corner. And their timing was always impeccable. At the same time every day, a trumpet would blow that would signal it was time to pray. Wherever you were and whatever you were doing, you were expected to stop and pray. The Pharisees loved to show how pious and holy they were, and they realized this was a great time to showcase their spirituality right in front of everyone.
Jesus teaches that real prayer, attention-getting prayer, God-honoring prayer, and heaven-satisfying prayer is prayed secretly and sincerely. Jesus even says what you do in secret will be rewarded because He is teaching that secrecy fosters sincerity. God knows when you take the time to go to your secret place and get alone with Him. When you are in that secret place, there is no applause and nobody is clapping for your religious performance. It is just you and God alone together, which is the essence of Jesus's teaching on prayer.
Dear Lord, help me to remember the teachings of Jesus when I pray today. Remind me of the value and the importance of praying in secret and praying sincerely, rather than praying for performance and recognition. In Jesus' name, amen.