When Its Time To Close The Door
“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matt 6:6
You may have close friends or colleagues who have experienced a broken marriage as a result of extra-marital affairs. One contributing reason for this is when a spouse develops intimacy with another person of the opposite sex. As a person spends less time at home, and more at work – coupled with work travels abroad - this can happen easily. What may begin innocently as a need to relate can develop into disastrous consequences.
There is an exclusive ‘twosome’ space in marriage, which should never be violated. It’s the intimacy between two persons – which started by ‘leaving and cleaving’ - which forms a foundational strength for a lasting and healthy marriage. When the ‘twosome’ space is intruded, the space is lost as there is no room for a third.
Both the inability to be alone and toremain in a two-some commitment is also mirrored in our relationship with our Father. The passage in Matt 6:1-6 touches on the need for secrecy in giving and praying. Both giving (Christian service) and praying (Christian living) is in need of privacy and ‘twosomeness,’ away from the glare of the public and our intense need for recognition by our fellow-men. We need to treasure that intimate part of our relationship with God, which is both exclusive and intimate, and best conducted ‘behind closed doors.’ Jesus was not making a statement against public ministry or praying, something which he and his disciples did often. He was asking us to search the intent of our hearts, which is also reflected on whether we are able to practise our faith ‘in secret.’ Through that, we find we are more able to develop an ‘unhypocritical’ and ‘audience of One’ spirituality. Where we love God alone, and alone; to be wholly loved by Him. In fact, a life lived before God ‘behind closed doors’ is more able to shine consistently for him as a ‘city on a hill’ or ‘light in the bushel’, something which Jesus just taught in the preceding chapter.
Jesus touched on the insatiable needs within us to seek for men’s approval and affirmation. And in Singapore, where community interaction is intense, everyday passes by with that pressure. Whether in the home, workplace, classroom or event in the church, the quiet battle rages on. It can be an intense and constant struggle. I believe one can only wrestle with it by being alone with God. Jacob wrestling at the mud of Jabbok comes to mind. Or St Paul learning in his early days; how to be alone with God in the desert. Even our Lord Jesus needed those Gethsemane moments.
This Lent is a good time to start ‘closing the door’ again. Stop having “extra-spiritual affairs.” And may we continue to discover true Christian joy of walking closely with our Father day by day.