While I was still in my undergraduate studies, I was busy practicing secrecy.
The reason I was practicing secrecy resulted from a desire along with my siblings to plan a surprise 25th anniversary party for our parents.
We decided the best way to keep our parents unaware of the party would be to secretly invite extra guests to a party our parents had already planned to host for family on the 4th of July.
Their wedding anniversary is near that date, so this was a great cover in our minds.
Since I lived the closest to our parents, I was tasked with sneaking photos out of their house to put together a photo album and manage the secret invite responses.
My siblings and I were practicing secrecy because we intended to bless and honor our parents.
We all laugh about how our parents hosted their own 25th wedding anniversary surprise!
And yes, I especially receive some ribbing because of frequently calling them before the party to say I had invited some more friends that they had to feed. 😊
The reward for practicing secrecy in this case is we did bless our parents, family, and friends with a great memory to share with each other in celebration of their marriage.
Did you know practicing secrecy is also encouraged by Jesus in Matthew 6:6?
ESV Matthew 6:6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
This verse is part of a series of teachings of Jesus recorded by Matthew around a variety of topics.
Matthew 6:6 instructs Jesus’ followers to pray in secret.
Secrecy to the point of shutting oneself inside a space for privacy.
Why does Jesus teach us to practice secrecy when praying?
Consider the previous verse:
ESV Matthew 6:5 “And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.
Prior to Matthew 6:6 Jesus’ followers are told they must not be like the hypocrites who pray publicly to show off and receive recognition from fellow humans.
In other words, the hypocrites prayed with motives that did not align with what Jesus and our heavenly Father desire.
Their desire was for human approval and recognition instead of the Lord’s.
To counter the temptation to seek human approval Jesus instructs his followers to seek his heavenly Father’s approval when they pray.
The best way to counter this temptation if you are prone to it is for practicing secrecy when you pray.
Does this mean we should never pray publicly?
A search for the word pray in both the Old and New Testaments yielded 90 separate verses.
The context for the use of the word varies from instructing how one should or should not pray to examples of someone praying publicly or privately
What is the critical teaching about practicing secrecy in Matthew 6:6?
Matthew 6:6 reveals why we should not behave like the hypocrites mentioned in Matthew 6:5:
- Our motive when praying is to be about our relationship with our heavenly Father.
- Our motive when praying is to be about expressing our joys and sorrows with our heavenly Father.
- Our motive when praying is to be about expressing our concern for our fellow man with our heavenly Father.
- When we pray with the correct motives our heavenly Father will reward us.
Nothing is hidden from our heavenly Father.
This is what is meant by the phrase “your Father who is in secret”. (See Psalm 139).
The point in Matthew 6:5-6 is not to cease public prayer but to pray with correct motives.
What is the reward we will receive?
When we pray with the correct motive, our reward will be that our prayers will be heard and answered by our Heavenly Father.
Additionally, our relationship with our Heavenly Father will become more naturally intimate yielding a strong desire for His recognition instead of fellow humans.
- Do you pray regularly? Why or why not?
- Are you comfortable or hesitant when asked to pray publicly? Why or why not?
- Do you have a place you can go to as described in Matthew 6:6 so you can pray secretly?
- When is it okay to pray publicly?
- How have you been impacted by praying for others?
- How have you been impacted by others praying for you?
- What ways have you blessed others or been blessed by others by practicing secrecy?
Leave a comment on the blog to generate some group discussion.
Email me at [email protected] if you have a private question.
We will continue our study on prayer in Matthew 6:7 next week.