THE WHERE OF PRAYER
Prayer – all types of prayer – both public and private are essential for the effectual Christian¹. But when and where is the best time to pray? The answer to that question speaks to the heart of nexus prayer, and is simple and obvious. Or is it?
In Ephesians 6:18, the Apostle Paul encourages us to “pray at all times and on every occasion.” Indeed, Paul comes right out and commands us in 1 Thessalonians 5:17 to actually “pray without ceasing.” Now, clearly, he was not speaking of a daily, incessant, on-our-knees, eyes-closed, and head-bowed type of praying, but rather of maintaining an attitude of prayer throughout the day. (Sometimes, we are not intended to take the bible quite so literally.) So, there’s no right time or bad time for prayer; we should pray at every opportunity. And lest we forget (with thanks to Rudyard Kipling), I’ve mentioned here many times that nexus prayer is intended to supplement, never replace other techniques and forms of prayer in the course of our weekly schedule and daily routine.
As to the where of prayer, I highly recommend finding a sacred space. But that said, although we should take the admonition Jesus gave us in Matthew 6:6 to pray in a certain way seriously, we should also not take this verse literally. In the 17th century English of King James, it reads:
“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” In today’s vernacular, we would say it more like this: “But you, when you pray to God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) go into your inner room, close your door, and pray to God secretly, and your heavenly Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”
In fact, many modern bible versions translate it in much the same way. But to be honest, the context and point that Jesus is making about prayer in his Sermon on the Mount² is not really about when or where we should pray, but how we should pray. Simply stated, he is teaching us that we should not pray in such a way that brings unnecessary attention to ourselves. If we do, then that’s our reward. Instead, Jesus is teaching that prayer is best done privately in our “inner room”– in the privacy of our own home, for example, rather than on a busy street corner where we can be seen by men.
But perhaps there is yet a deeper meaning also hidden in this teaching on prayer by Jesus. (He was, after all, speaking primarily to a group comprised largely of Jews, and did often teach with parables, riddles, and curious questions.) The likelihood that there is a mystical meaning embedded in Matthew 6:6 seems all the clearer to me when I read yet another passage from the Apostle Paul, this time in I Corinthians 3:16, and what I consider to be at the heart, the essence of nexus prayer.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?”