Just prior to giving his disciples the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus offered some preliminary ideas on the importance of prayer, including this one: “When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. . . . But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen . . . in secret” .
To discover the real you, look at what you spend time thinking about when no one is looking, when nothing is forcing you to think about anything in particular. Do you think about your bills? Life? Work? Marriage? Do you allow your mind to wonder endlessly in imganation? Do you think of how your life could be different?
I am sure each of use falls into one or even two of the above questions. However, how many times do your thoughts go toward God? I am sure there are a few of us. You may want to be seen as a humble, unassuming person, but do you take the initiative to confess your sins before God?
You wish to be perceived as a positive, cheerful person, but do you habitually thank God for everything you have and praise him for who he is? You may speak a great deal about what a “blessing” your faith is and how you “just really love the Lord,” but if you are prayerless—is that really true? If you aren’t joyful, humble, and faithful in private before God, then what you want to appear to be on the outside won’t match what you truly are.
The seventeenth-century English theologian John Owen wrote a warning about ministers but I believe it applies to us as well:
A minister may fill his pews, his communion roll, the mouths of the public, but what that minister is on his knees in secret before God Almighty, that he is and no more.
The infallible test of spiritual integrity, Jesus says, is your private prayer life.