“Are You Praying In Your Closet”?

“And whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, so that they may be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward.  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: 5-6

One of the most difficult, but most important, things to learn to do is to “pray in your closet.” By that I mean to do good deeds, accomplish things, and serve others without having to draw a big crowd.

When we get to the point where we can do great things without needing to tell everyone about it, then we are doing those things for the right reason.  If I can help someone without having to tell my friends and family all about it, then I’ve been charitable for that person. I haven’t been charitable in order to brag.

There is a gentleman in my church who is older and a little bit foreboding. It takes him some time to warm up to people.  He attends church every Sunday, sits in the same seat, and comes and goes without much fanfare.  What no one knows is that he has donated more money to the church than probably anyone.  If there is a financial need, he fills it.  Silently.  And if someone asked him about it, I would bet he’d brush off the question.  While the rest of us talk about Matthew 6: 5-6, he lives it.

Admittedly, that is hard to do. Human beings are sensitive creatures.  We struggle if we don’t get positive feedback.  But it is important to learn to stop craving mankind’s approval and to solely crave God’s approval.  The way to do that is to practice serving God privately.  When I can do that, then I know that my actions are truly motivated by my desire to serve Him.

Of course, I don’t think there is anything wrong with people who do good deeds and tell everyone about it. Our world is a better place because Bill Gates does good deeds and let’s everyone know what he is doing.  He is using his fame to draw our attention to problems in the world that need to be addressed.  That is a good thing.

However, when we do good deeds privately, that is for the purpose of our learning how to let go of our egos. Let’s face it.  Most of us are our own worst enemies.  Why?  Because our egos have too much control over us.  Our egos cause us to be easily offended.  Our egos demand that other people compliment us constantly, or we feel insecure.  Our egos lead us to show off and, as a result, look foolish.  We do a myriad of stupid things because we are driven by our egos and that prevents us from truly becoming successful human beings.

The best way to learn to let go of our egos is to regularly do things that don’t feed our egos. We need to spend time doing certain things because they are the right thing to do.  We need to help others for their sake. We need to encourage others and stop competing with them.  Simply put, we need to stop obsessing about ourselves and start obsessing about how to better serve God.

Today, consider some ways that you can practice “praying in your closet.” It is a good way to learn to let go of your ego and to start living in service to God.  It is hard to do, but in the end, it is the best way to have a happy, successful life.