Posted: 25 Mar 2012 06:00 AM PDT
"But whenever 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).
Jesus taught us many lessons in his sermons and by the power of his example. Of all his teachings, however, those about prayer may be among the most powerful. Jesus taught us the importance of communal prayer, but in this passage he instructs us in solitary prayer—time when we are alone with God.
To be alone with God, Jesus instructs us to "go into your room and shut the door." In other versions of the Bible the word "room" is translated as "inner room," "closet," or "inner chamber." By expanding our concept of "room," I understand Jesus to suggest that the first step in our prayer practice is to walk away and close the door on the stressors of our busy lives. It is through this place of solitude that we are led to a deeper room—that eternal space where God abides.
Taken in this light, Jesus entered a room and closed the door every time he left his disciples to pray. He entered a room on the mountain top. He entered a room in the Garden of Gethsemane. It was in these places that Jesus could be in communion with God and then return to his world, transformed by God's grace.
Closing the door on our stressors may be a necessary first step in prayer, but it is not always easy. At times it even requires some creative problem solving. My husband and I share a one-bedroom apartment, and while we manage quite well, there are not many rooms to walk into! But Jesus demonstrated that a room is more than four walls and a door.
Keeping this in mind, I begin my time with God by looking out our seventh-floor window. Depending on the morning, I can see the sunrise and crystal blue ponds; I can look into strong, bare tree branches or watch birds change their formations. I feel the expansiveness of the universe and, paradoxically, my own smallness within it. The sky has become my room through which I enter that deep connection with God, and so begins my morning prayer.
Let this Lenten season be a time to consider our own prayer practices.
O God, lead me away from the busyness of my life and into those rooms where you wait for me. Amen.
Jessica Scovel, member of Marble Collegiate