by Samuel Lee
"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 who seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly."—Matt. 6:6.
We have here our blessed Lord's instructions for the management of secret prayer, the crown and glory of a child of God.
I. The direction prescribed for our deportment in secret duty in three things: 1. Enter thy closet; this word signifies a secret or recluse habitation, and sometimes it is rendered a hiding place for treasure. 2. "Shut thy door," or lock it, as the word intimates. The Greek word furnishes the term "key," as appears by Rev. 3:7, and 20:1, 3, implying that we must bar or bolt it. 3. "Pray to thy Father which is in secret." "Father." Tertullian notes this name, as intimating both piety and power; "thy Father" denoting intimacy and propriety.
II. A gracious promise which may be branched into three parts: 1. For thy Father sees thee in secret, his eye is upon thee with a gracious aspect, when thou art withdrawn from all the world. 2. He will reward thee. The word used here is sometimes translated by rendering, Matt. 22:21. Rom. 2:6, and 13:7; by delivering, Matt. 27:58. Luke 9:42; by yielding, or affording, Heb. 12:11. Rev. 22:2. All which comes to this; he will return thy prayers or thy requests, amply and abundantly into thy bosom. 3. He will do it openly, manifestly; before the world sometimes, and most plentifully and exuberantly before men and angels at the great day; secret prayers shall have open and public answers.
III. Here is a demonstration of sincerity, from the right performance of the duty set forth by the antithesis in the fifth verse. "But thou shalt not be as the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men." Enter not thy house only, or thy common chamber, but thy closet, the most secret and retired privacy, that others may neither discern thee nor rush in suddenly upon thee. God will answer thee and perform thy request, as a gracious return to thy secret sincerity. God is pleased by promise to make himself a debtor to secret prayer. It brings nothing to God but empty hands and naked hearts; to show that reward in Scripture sense, does not flow in on the streams of merit, but of grace. It is monkish divinity to assert otherwise; for what merit strictly taken can there be in prayer? The mere asking of mercy cannot merit it at the hands of God. Malachi 2:3. Our most sincere petitions are impregnated with sinful mixtures. We halt, like Jacob, both in and after our choicest and strongest wrestlings. But such is the grace of our heavenly Father, who spies that little sincerity of our hearts in secret, that he is pleased to accept us in his beloved, and to smell a sweet savor in the fragrant perfumes and odors of his intercession.
Table of Contents
DUTY AND USEFULNESS
HOW CAN WE MANAGE SECRET PRAYER?
DIRECTIONS, SPECIAL AND PECULIAR, TO SECRET PRAYER
HOW TO DISCOVER AND DISCERN ANSWERS TO SECRET PRAYER