Go To Your Inner Room

One of the three disciplines of Lent is prayer. During this season of Lent, the Church calls us to spend more time in prayer. There are many ways to pray, and all ways of prayer are pleasing to God. But there is a particular kind of prayer, the prayer of the heart, that draws us close to our loving God in a very personal and special way.

On Ash Wednesday we read from the gospel of Matthew in which Jesus gives us a formula for prayer:

“But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you.”

So what is Jesus saying to us? Could this be a formula for us to use when we pray? Let’s examine what Jesus is saying and then apply it to our prayer lives.

Go to your inner room. Jesus is not talking so much about a physical place but of a spiritual place. We know that Jesus lives in our hearts, and He is always with us. In fact, Jesus is always waiting for us to approach Him in prayer. We might imagine that Jesus is already sitting there patiently waiting for us to come to Him. We might think of this inner room as the place in our heart that is reserved for the Lord. We might close our eyes and imagine a beautiful place that brings us comfort and peace. It might be a scenic forest, a majestic mountain, or a stream or lake. It might be a favorite scene from scripture. Whatever the place, we can go there in our mind and then imagine Jesus there waiting for us.

Close the door. If you have ever tried to pray in a crowded airport or while your children are singing and playing, you know that it is difficult. We need to have quiet in order to hear the Lord speaking to us. The idea of closing the door, is an encouragement to find a quiet place to pray. This could be a special room in your home, a chapel, or even outside. We want to create a space of quiet where God can speak to us, and where we won’t be interrupted or distracted.

Pray to your Father in secret. There are times when we pray in public. We do this each week at Mass, at a funeral or a wedding, or sometimes visiting a sick family member when we offer prayer for that person. God is also calling us to this special and intimate kind of prayer experience that is just between “me and God”. This is the “secret” prayer that Jesus is talking about. There are many beautiful stories in the bible of Jesus going up to a mountain by himself to pray to the Father. Each of us needs that quiet and personal space where we can have this conversation with the Lord.

The experience of prayer is different for each of us, because we each have a unique and special prayer relationship with the Lord. God is interested in everything that we have to say. Prayer is a way of bringing what is in our hearts before the Lord. God doesn’t need us to pray to Him as much as we need to pray to God! In prayer, we enter into another realm. We can bring the problems and cares of our lives before the Lord who is always ready to hear us and help us. It is also important to offer praise and thanks to God for what he is doing in our lives.

When the disciples asked Jesus how to pray, He gave them the perfect prayer, the Our Father. A beautiful exercise in prayer is to take this perfect prayer and pray it slowly and meditate on the deep meaning of this prayer.

God always hears our prayers, and He always answers them. Like a loving father, he knows exactly what we need; he gives us what we need at exactly the right moment and not a moment before! Let’s make more time for prayer and allow Jesus to fill us as we journey to the cross and ultimately to the empty tomb on Easter Sunday.

In His Love,
Deacon Tim


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