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“The next day, as they went on their journey and drew near the city, Peter went up on the housetop to pray, about the sixth hour.”—Acts 10:9 (NKJV)
Yesterday we looked at sanctimonious public prayer, which happens when our public prayers are more about highlighting our own holiness rather than pointing to the holiness of God. It is something Jesus warned us not to practice. Being sanctimonious, or spotlighting our spirituality, can take us down an ugly path to pride, a place God would not have us go.
On the other end of the spectrum is “secret prayer,” those words we lift up from the depths of our heart in private, like Peter did in today’s verse. This is something Jesus encouraged. For example, take a look at Matthew 6:6 (NKJV): “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
Jesus is the perfect role model for us because He practiced what He preached. Many of His public prayers were brief: John 11:41-42; Matthew 11:25-26; Luke 3:21; Luke 22:32; His prayers in the Garden; and His prayers on the cross (just to name a few). Yet all the public prayers recorded in the Gospels show a heavenly-minded Jesus with a heart for others.
Jesus also took to private prayer. Luke tells us that He Himself often withdrew into the wilderness and prayed (Luke 5:16). And in Mark’s Gospel, we see Jesus rising early in the morning and going to a secluded place to pray (Mark 1:35). Routinely, Jesus would escape the demands of daily life to find solitude with His Father.
Today, we might refer to this as a time to reboot. Time alone with God enabled the man in Jesus to refresh His spirit and regroup His thoughts. He knew the importance of being still before God and developed a heart that believed “not My will, but Yours, be done” (Luke 22:42 NKJV).
Furthermore, great riches lie on the other side of secret prayer. Recall those “rewards” Jesus referred to in Matthew 6:6. These treasures exist. They are displayed in a more intimate relationship with God (1 Corinthians 2:9), godly wisdom (Proverbs. 8:11), and the joy of seeing answered prayers that significantly impact the course of human life (Luke 22:42). Great battles have been fought in secret on the knees of godly people: Moses, Hannah, Nehemiah, Peter, Paul . . . and you!
DIG: Did Jesus prohibit public prayer? How would He prefer we pray? What is the crucial focus in either?
DISCOVER: The Greek word for room was a place where treasures were kept. What connection can you make when you go to your prayer “room” to seek God?
DISPLAY: Do you routinely go to a special place to pray? After a while, you may discover you feel more at peace once you enter that place. If you haven’t already, invite some friends over to watch the movie War Room. You might want to jot down some questions to discuss at the end.
Lisa Supp lives in Utah and has served within the CCFL Web and Prayer Ministry since 2011. She also volunteers as an editor on the CCFL Prayer Wall and is a writer on the Communications Team. Retired from teaching, Lisa and her husband Ron volunteer at their local Calvary Chapel and share a passion for Scripture, apologetics, and education.