Jesus Prayed in Secret
In Matthew 6:6 Jesus promises his disciples that their Father will reward them when they pray in secret. In that one chapter, the word *reward* occurs seven times, which unquestionably points us to the blessings our Father gives in response to private prayer.
We do not have because we do not ask (James 4:2), and that exposes our lack of faith (Matt. 21:22). Christ asked because he had such strong faith. In turn, he wants to draw us near to God in faith, believing that he exists and that he will reward those who seek him (Heb. 11:6). As we see in John’s Gospel, Jesus believed God existed, drew near to him, and also prayed for his reward: “And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed” (John 17:5). We must do likewise, as long as we do so biblically.
We struggle when it comes to private prayer. Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) wrote a sermon “Hypocrites Deficient in the Duty of Prayer,” which in some respects stirs up more conviction than his justly famous sermon “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God.” Ordinarily, false converts are the ones deficient in private prayer. Yet, even the most godly saints find quality prayer in private a toil. With this in mind, let us look for help to the godliest man ever, our Lord Jesus Christ, a man of private prayer.
Some emphasize the idea of a Christian’s “quiet time” at the expense of the more important duty of public worship. Others so prioritize corporate worship that they minimize the role of private prayer. Instead, we must see this not as an either–or but as a both–and matter. Our triune God, who meets with us in a glorious way at corporate worship, also remains pleased to commune with us anytime during the course of our daily lives, especially in private prayer. Jesus spent time not only in the synagogue and temple but also in private communion. The former should naturally lead to the latter. Private and public worship are friends that help each other.