Scripture: Matthew 6:1-18
Observation: Jesus focuses on the importance of practicing spirituality in private. He talks about making good deeds, praying, and fasting an act between the individual and God, rather than for public attention. He also shares a model for how to pray, which we refer to as the “Our Father.”
Application: In my all-time favorite movie “The Parent Trap,” the two main characters can’t get along, so they’re forced to live together in the isolation cabin. The isolation cabin is far away from anyone and anything else, so the girls eventually have no choice but to interact with each other. They go from enemies to friends to realizing that they’re long-lost twins. (I know, I know; it’s far-fetched, but it’s Hollywood, so what do you expect?) With no one to impress or opinions to worry about, with no reason to hide their true feelings or maintain a certain façade, they truly connect with one another.
Isn’t our relationship with God so much like that sometimes? When we isolate ourselves – free from people to impress or opinions to worry about – we can connect with God deeply and wholeheartedly.
When Jesus talks about isolating ourselves and praying to our Father in private, he isn’t talking about living isolated, lonely lives. He knew the importance of having a community of people we can rely on; it’s why he spends so much time during this sermon talking about how we should love and treat one another. But he also knew the importance of having one-on-one time to connect with our Father in heaven, of laying everything and everyone else aside.
“When you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private.” (v. 6)
I deeply value one-on-one time. While I love groups – whether it’s me and my sister or me and my entire small group of friends – there’s something freeing and focused about one-on-one time. During one-on-one time with someone I care deeply about, I feel freedom to be fully and completely me.
Focused time with our Father is a freeing invitation to be fully real.
When we isolate ourselves and pray, we strip away all of the facades we often keep up when we’re with others. We’re real. We can get angry and mad and sad and joyful and happy and peaceful. We can question. We can confess. We can securely analyze our imperfections. We can praise. We can affirm. We can ask. We can beg. We can plead.
Isolation allows us to be who we are and feel what we feel in the presence of our Lord and King, our Creator and Sustainer.
Let’s find a time to isolate ourselves this weekend, giving ourselves permission to connect with our Father, free from expectations and fears.
Prayer: Father, thank you for letting me come to you in prayer – real, striped down, unfiltered. You are worthy of praise alone, yet you allow us – invite us! – into your presence to feel and cry and question and beg and intercede and ask. What a gift. I pray for a real, unforced, authentic prayer life where I can come to connect with you. Amen.