But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret.
This verse always conjures up an image in my mind of a young man hiding in a wardrobe with shoes on the floor and clothes hanging all around him. It seems a very strange place to pray. It makes me wonder whether this was part of the inspiration for CS Lewis', The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.
A Secret Place To Pray
In fact, the translator of the King James Version was trying to find an adequate word to translate the original and, perhaps, doing a little better then the modern versions have done with "room."
The original word had a very particular meaning for which we do not have an appropriate alternative. The "room" referred to was an inner store room where a family's most treasured possessions would be kept. A modern equivalent might be a vault though most of us don't have one of those at home.
The point that Jesus was making was not simply that we should pray in secret, though that is an important message. It was also that the secret place where we pray becomes a storehouse of treasure. We meet with God secretly, on our own, and this is where we are blessed beyond our wildest dreams. Not blessed with material wealth but with a spiritual wealth.
Heavenly Treasures or Worldly Pleasures
Those who haven't experienced the treasures of love, joy and peace to be found in the prayer closet may still hanker after earthly treasures. But these bring only transient pleasure. Later in Matthew 6 Jesus says, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (v 19-21).
We often associate this passage with how we use our money as that's the next topic Jesus goes on to talk about. But His listeners would surely have made the connection with His comments about the treasure house earlier.
No-one can steal from us the treasure we find in the prayer closet. We may suffer the material consequences of an economic recession, but when we pray we can find lasting treasure which will not only bless us now, but will also be a blessing to us in eternity.
Prayer College Assignment
Store up some treasure for yourself this week by spending "much time in secret with Jesus alone."