‘Prayer is friendship with God. Friendship is not formal, but it is
not formless: it has its cultivation, its behavior, its obligations,
even its disciplines; and the casual mind kills it.’ George Buttrick
Jesus said: 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 the time of Jesus, life was very public. Neighbours would share a
common courtyard and would have been in and out of each other’s homes
all the time. Very little was seen as private. Most houses though
would have a flat roof where people could sit. Many houses had a room
on top of the flat where people could retire to be quiet.
The word that has been translated here with “closet” refers to this
place of relative silence. And Jesus told his followers to use such a
place for prayer. There they would be able to focus on God and only
God would be able to see them and hear their prayers.
This small room would be invisible from the street and with door close
even the people in the house would not know what is taking place in
But God who is unseen can also see what is unseen to humans and he
would reward such prayer.
It is God’s desire that we pray continually. This means as we sell
our products, clean our houses, teach our students, seeing our
patients and buying our food we must remain in communion with God.
In addition to these prayers God also teaches us to have a more
intentional time of prayer ”… 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
In order to pray and meet with God privately in involves taking
certain steps before we even start praying “…enter into thy
closet…shut thy door…”
This means a decision was made to pray and steps were taken to ensure
a private time with God. The only reason we are in the “closet” is to
meet with God. Our prayers then are not formal but neither are they
formless. Our prayers then express friendship with God and friendship
has ‘its cultivation, its behavior, its obligations, even its