Jesus says in Matthew 6:6, “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” This is a quotation from the NKJV, but it is one place where I like the KJV word “closet.” Though it is clear from the context Jesus is speaking of the “private place” in your life, the word “closet” seems to more clearly convey what Jesus was teaching. So, my question in this article asks, “What is your closet?” To be clear, I am not expecting you to answer me. Certainly the idea of a “closet” is intended to be your “secret place.” It is between you and the Lord. I am only urging you to consider one for your own spiritual life.
Much of the New Testament centers on the doctrines of the church and in particular the assemblies of the body. These are absolutely important to Christians for various reasons. However, much of the New Testament and a large portion of Jesus’ teachings speak to a Christian’s life away from the assemblies. This certainly is one of the most important aspects of a Christian’s life. How a Christian lives is absolutely vital to his or her faithfulness to the Lord and ultimately to his or her salvation.
In the verse quoted above, Jesus highlights the importance of a believer having some portion of his or her life set aside to private activities, specifically activities that assist in his or her spiritual life. It is worth noting that Jesus said “when you pray.” He is speaking as if this is something you will naturally do, even on a regular basis. And this need for private prayer is certainly not superseding prayer with the body as taught in Acts 4 or even prayer in the presence of unbelievers as was the case in Acts 27:35.
While Jesus is specifically speaking to prayer, this principle goes far beyond the need for private prayer. It certainly pertains to private study of the Scriptures. It also pertains to meditation of spiritual thoughts and activities and perhaps to the spiritual health of our own spirits.
While this is surely relevant to any generation, it seems especially needed in our modern society today. In the normal hustle and bustle of our lives, perhaps even in the context of our constant contact with those who are worldly and live according to the flesh, it may be especially needful to have some time to ourselves devoted to private spiritual meditation. And this, my brothers and sisters, is where our “closet” becomes very relevant.
It is my conviction the New Testament writers spoke of such in various phrases and passages throughout the Scriptures. Consider these examples to name a few:
2 Timothy 2:15, “Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
2 Corinthians 13:5, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you? — unless indeed you are disquali-fied.”
Philippians 4:8, “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy — meditate on these things.”
These verses and many others speak to the need for Christians to take care and give diligent thought as to the health of their spirits. What better place is there to spend time in our lives but in our “closets?”
Now consider these very easily applied examples of the benefits of such private activities. What better way for a young Christian couple to draw closer to each other than by studying and praying privately together, especially before marriage or even children? Even though that involves another it would still be a “closet” for them as a couple. How about taking some time for prayer or simply reading portions of the Scriptures daily or at least regularly in the early morning hours before the busy home activities begin? I know brethren who listen to MP3 lessons that can be so easily downloaded and played as they commute to and from the workplace. Yes, I know of some of the dangers of modern technology and the wariness it requires, but this is an example of the positive benefits of technology as well. Audio versions of the Scriptures are very easily acquired. I know of brethren who listen to a cappella praises and hymns of the Lord throughout their activities at home or elsewhere. What better way to help keep our minds and lives focused “on things above, not on things on the earth” when we must deal with the “things of the earth”? There is no better way for families to conclude their days with their children in prayer and/or Bible readings and discussions. This too could be their family “closet.”
These are just a few examples of how we can enter our “closets.” Use your imagination and come up with whatever ways and methods you can find to make time for a “closet” in your life. The spiritual benefits are tremendous and the eternal rewards are literally “out of this world!” I guarantee your lives and your spirits will be benefitted if you take time to build a “closet.”