Thursday, August 7, 2008

Enter into your Closet

I have spent the past couple of days in Charlotte, NC with our youth group at the National Fine Arts Festival. I have been so impressed with the conduct of our students. They have represented our church and Christ very well. Each of the young ladies that ministered did a great job, and I was very proud of all four of them.

I had a fellow minister call me at my hotel room last night and expressed to me how God has put his marriage and family back together after being divorced for nearly five years. He kept telling me how powerful prayer is. That got me to thinking about prayer, and I decided to blog today on our "closet" of prayer. I would like to share some comments with you from Rick Renner's book, "Sparkling Gems from the Greek" as we discuss this important subject.

If you would like to know the Holy Spirit more intimately, it is important for you to understand what Jesus said in Matthew 6:6. He said, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."

When Jesus said that you are to "enter into thy closet," was He actually telling you to get up every morning, open the closet door, shove all your shoes and clothes to the side, crawl inside that dark room, shut the door, and pray? Of course not!

The word "closet" is taken from the Greek word tameion, an old word that has an interesting progression in history. At first, the word tameion was used to depict a secret place where one would hide his or her most valuable possessions. But as time progressed, the word tameion came to describe a secure place where a person could put money or treasure, such as a safety deposit box or a vault at the bank. It represented a place so secure that no one would be able to break in to disrupt or steal these valuable possessions.

But by New Testament times, the word tameion had evolved even further. First, it depicted a secret place where one hid his prized possessions. Then it referred to a secure place such as a safety deposit box or a vault at the bank. Finally, tameion came to describe a bedroom.

Because a bedroom is a secret place where a treasured relationship takes place between a husband and a wife, it makes perfect sense that the word tameion would eventually describe this most private place. Intimate moments shared between a husband and wife occurs in the bedroom. Although the husband and wife love their children in nearly every other sphere of their lives, this is one sphere that isn't available to anyone else. It is a private place and experience to be shared only between husband and wife.

Thus, this verse could actually be translated: "When it's time for you to pray, enter into your bedchamber, and when you have shut the door behind you and secured a
place of privacy, then pray."

The word tameion is used in this verse to convey the idea of intimacy with God in prayer. Jesus was figuratively saying, "Just as a husband and wife enter into their bedroom and shut the door so they can bare their hearts and souls to each other in intimacy, so also you should have a relationship with God that is so tender, so special, and so intimate that it is shared only between you and Him and no one else. Therefore, find a secure place where you can go to share your heart and soul with God in prayer."

Jesus portrays prayer as something so precious that it should occur in a bedroom with the door shut. This does not literally mean you must pray in the bedroom any more than it means you must pray in a closet. The concept of a bedroom is only used to convey the idea of an isolated and solitary place where you can be alone with the Lord.

When we enter into a time of prayer, it should be done at a place and time when we are not interrupted so the Holy Spirit can speak to our hearts and we can bare our hearts to Him. It should be a time of a sweet mingling together of human spirit with the divine Spirit. Each of us should make it a daily priority to have this special time of communion with the Father through the Holy Spirit. It doesn't matter where you and I spend this private time with God; it just matters that we actually do it. Of course, it is best to find a time of the day when we can put everything else aside and concentrate only on Him, for the time we give to seeking God is a sacred time.

When we read the Gospels, we find that Jesus often arose early in the morning to pray when the other disciples were still sleeping. He often prayed on a mountaintop or out in the wilderness, far from the hustle and bustle of the city. There is nothing in the Bible that says the early morning hours are more holy than other hours of the day, and nowhere does the Bible teach that praying on a mountaintop is somehow better than other places. Jesus chose those early morning hours because it was a moment when He could find solitude and quietness with God. He prayed on those mountaintops and in the wilderness because He could pray in those isolated places without the interference of others.

Your place of prayer — your quiet place — may be in your car when you are driving to work alone every morning because that's the only time and place you can find to be alone.
It may be in the shower as you prepare for the day. It may be early in the morning when everyone else in the house is still sleeping. Or perhaps you find it better to pray late at night after others have gone to bed and you are finally alone. The point is this: Each of us must have a quiet place and a sacred time when we can give ourselves fully to God in prayer.

You may say, "I know I need to spend quality time with the Lord, but my schedule is so busy that it's hard for me to find a time to do it." But the truth is, you find time for everything else that is important to you. So if you really want to be with the Lord, you will find time for that as well. Think about it. Don't you have time to read the newspaper? Do you watch the morning and evening news? Do you watch television programs or find time to go to the theater or movies? Do you make time in your schedule for recreation?

You see, you always make time for whatever is important to you. If you really wish to have an intimate, personal relationship with the Holy Spirit, you will make time for it.

So select a quiet place where you won't be disturbed. Once you go to that place, shut the door to outside interference and to the voices that are constantly calling out for your attention. Focus on only one thing: this very intimate and private time with the Father. This is so important that you shouldn't delay in acting on it! You need to start enjoying times of intimate fellowship with the Lord today! Blessings.

Pastor Rusty


Treasure Seeker said...

thanks for sharing.

good stuff. i love finding out the history of words and the real meaning the new testament writers had in mind when they wrote the scriptures.

love you!