You do not have because you do not ask.
Jesus told us how to pray beginning in Matthew 6:6: “When you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” Jesus was not condemning public praying. After all, Jesus prayed before He fed the five thousand and before He raised Lazarus from the dead. There is nothing wrong with praying in public, but Evelyn Christenson conveyed a great illustration about our prayer lives. She said prayer should be like an iceberg, “with about one-ninth showing in our public group praying and eight-ninths out of sight in our secret closets.”
We often get it reversed–we pray short in private but long in public. Do you know people who try to get all their prayer time in while they have you as a captive audience? No, do most of your praying in your inner room. Pray secretly.
What did Jesus mean by “inner room”? The Greek word, “tameion,” referred to a storage room where treasures were kept. I love that picture. In His storeroom in heaven, God has all kinds of gifts He wants to give to you–but you have to ask. James said, “You do not have because you do not ask” (James 4:2). If there is any regret in heaven, I think it will be when we see what could have been ours if only we had had the faith to ask.
In these verses, I think Jesus was also saying we need a private place to pray with God. You can talk to God anytime, but there also ought to be an appointed time and place that you meet with Him. Do you have such a place? When I was in high school, my place to pray was in a park right across from my high school. I went there almost every morning to pray before classes. When my wife and I first got married, there was a little ball field a couple of blocks from our house that I would walk to in order to pray. Today, my “inner room” is a couch in my office that I kneel beside every morning. We all need an appointed time and place to pray as well as a continuing conversation with God.
Jesus said we should not only pray secretly but we should also pray simply. In fact, in verses 9-15, He gave us a model for praying that we know as the Lord’s Prayer. Now, Jesus did not say, “Pray this prayer.” This is not a mantra to be repeated word for word; it is a model for how we are to pray. And it is a simple prayer. We are to pray secretly and simply.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Straight Talk About Your Prayer Life” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2022.
Evelyn Christenson, “A Journey into Prayer” (Colorado Springs: Chariot Victor, 1997), 24.
Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved. www.lockman.org