6 "Here's what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won't be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. (The Message)
When I read this familiar scripture from Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" from The Message Bible I see it in a new way, which is what I like about The Message Bible. Having a more conversational style, it illuminates things in a different way, like discussing it with a friend. The less formal language lends itself to greater understanding, and a new perspective.
My "prayer closet" is my bathroom. In the early mornings, as I shower and prepare for the day, I spend some time in prayer, talking with God, interceding for people or simply bringing my concerns for the day. During this time, with the lights dimmed and everyone else in the house asleep or preparing for their own day, I can be alone with God and my thoughts. It's my "quiet, secluded place".
When Jesus speaks of "role-play before God" it puts me in mind of the pressures of praying aloud in a group of people, or even with just one person. I always worry a bit about how it sounds - is it spiritual enough, is it churchy enough? I feel pressure to say the right words, to be fluent and flawless, not stumbling through as in my private prayers where I seek to express things only the heart, and sometimes my tears, can express.
This is indeed how we should pray, not always, because praying for others encourages both them, and us but definitely at some time in every day for the very reason Jesus said; "The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace."
Lord, I want so much to commune with You in the quiet hour. Thank You for the ability to come directly into Your Presence with my sins and failures and concerns and fears. You hear them all and You care for them all, because I do. What an amazing thing. Your will be done. Amen.
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I have always loved writing, more recently, have fallen madly in love with Jesus, and so I am happy to be able to join two things I love and to honor Him with the gift He so generously gave to me and to work to further His kingdom. His Word will not return to Him void.