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The Blessing of Knowing an Inner Closet

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The Blessing of Knowing an Inner Closet

9 minuten leestijd

When the Lord Jesus speaks about prayer in Matthew 6:6a, He begins with the words, "But thou." With these words He desires to direct attention to the previous verse. In this verse, He speaks of a custom in the life of the Pharisees to make prayer a public exhibit.

You know how the Jews prayed three times a day. Think of Daniel praying before his open window, toward Jerusalem. And what did the Pharisees do—those hypocrites as the Lord calls them? They made sure that when it was the hour to pray that they were standing in the most conspicuous place, in the synagogue to offer prayer. As they were going home they would stop along the way at the busiest street corner to pray. You can imagine how this drew the attention of the people. They received much praise for their piety and that was exactly their object, the praise of men.

The Lord says that they have their reward. They desired the praise of the people and that is what they received. But from the Lord they needed nothing, and neither did they receive anything. Perhaps you say, that today no one stands on a street corner praying to seek attention. But it is not impossible for us also to desire to pray in order to be heard and seen of men. It happens often that some people offer prayer so that they may receive the praise of men far what is often described as the gift of prayer.

How empty and poor that is! The Lord Jesus says, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet." The word closet could be interpreted as inner chamber. Most Eastern homes had what was called an inner chamber. That was a place without windows, and with a door that could be closed. This was generally the coolest place in the house where the perishable foods were kept.

Enter into thine closet because there it is quiet and there no one can see you. There you can be alone with your needs. But there is something else which draws our attention: The Lord says, "But thou." That little word "thou" speaks to us of a personal matter. Praying is personal. It is speaking to the Lord. It is as if the Lord is saying, "No one needs to be present." But you will say, what about public prayer? Is the Lord condemning that here? Certainly not.

We may pray together. More than that, it is necessary that in God's house we may be together in prayer. It is so sad that many consider the minister as being the only one who prays in God's house, and totally exclude themselves. Alas, the only word that has any significance to them is the word "Amen" because it means the end of the prayer. As a congregation, may we be as one in God's house, praying for the Lord's presence in our midst.

But when we read the words of the Lord, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet," then we hear the Lord speaking of personal prayer. For this we need an inner closet. Does that mean that we need a special room or place? No, that is not the deepest meaning. But the meaning is that those who have God-given needs in their hearts need a place where they may be alone with the Lord. And those who truly need to cry unto the Lord, can find such a place almost anywhere — a place where no one sees them, but where the Lord, whose eyes are over all things, looks down upon them.

Do you have such a place? May the walls of your house testify of the soul-wrestlings, of the crying and sighing because "I have no Cod for my soul." Remember, those who have no need for such a place and have no soul needs which must be poured out in the most hidden corners of the house, have no spiritual life.

Here we do not speak about the world, those people who have no need of Cod or His Word, and who desecrate His day. But we are speaking about those who know that there is a God in heaven, those who come faithfully to God's house, and those who pray before and after mealtime, but who as yet have no need for an inner closet. Do you have such a place? Do you know that missing life? Are you one of those who say, "I don't know who I am or what I am. But one thing I know—that I am unconverted — there is nothing in the world that can satisfy me. I cannot pray, and am not worthy that the Lord would hear me."

If that is the case with you, then I am sure that you have some hidden corners in your house where you pray for a prayer. Those who have been wrought upon by the Holy Spirit all become acquainted with an inner closet. Because where spiritual life is worked, prayer is worked. Then the need to know Him becomes everything; then it cannot be any different but that we fall upon our knees.

But then perhaps we have no words. But the need within will duplicate the words of the publican: "Oh, Lord, be merciful to me." Such wrestling cries out more than words. Our forefathers would have said, they pray more with "the cap on than off," meaning that throughout the day they sigh unto the Lord.

There are times when even that is gone. All that is left is a pleading eye, that is, an eye not turned to the world, but heavenward. In those eyes, we can read their prayer: Lord is there yet hope for such a one as I am? They need that inner chamber to draw nigh to the Lord. One thing they know, in them there is nothing, no hope, no expectation, but in Him there is everything. And although the Lord does not owe them anything, still they may hope upon His mercy.

How precious can their closet become when He gives them a little liberty to pray, when He quickens their soul! When they may experience something of "He is nigh unto those that cry unto Him," it causes them to bow deeper and to cry louder.

How precious that inner closet becomes when the Lord opens His treasure chambers just a little and they may see that outside of themselves there is a way opened in the Lord Jesus Christ. Then that inner closet becomes more and more necessary. For the opening up of that way can be so very dear to one who has no way in himself.

But now he needs to be in his inner closet more than ever. There you may hear: "Oh Lord, that it may also be my way! That Thou would plant my feet upon that way." There are times that there is no other desire coming from his inner closet than that the way that has descended from above may be his way, that the blood that was shed may also cleanse his sins.

Then the inner closet becomes a place where he learns he has no hands to take, no feet to go. There he stretches forth an empty hand unto Him who he has sinned against. There you hear, "Oh Lord, it would be righteous if Thou would cast me away, if for me there would be no blood of cleansing!" There he sees that the justice of God cannot be satisfied from this inner closet, but only by Him who is the God-given way. In that closet are times he can see so much in that blood that he cannot doubt that it is more than sufficient for all Cod's children. Then he may realize that the Lord is such a rich and well-doing Cod for His people. Then the mercy and grace of God becomes a fountain that flows for His children.

Do you not dare to say that you have an inner closet out of fear that you feel that your prayers are not true prayers?

Can you hear the crying in that inner closet? "Oh, Lord, can it also be for me? Is there grace for such a one as I am? Can there be mercy, even for such a sinner as I am? May there be one drop of His precious blood to cleanse me?" Oh, that there might be times in the inner closet when you say, "Oh, that Thou would speak unto my soul, that I may know this once!" When all that has gone before concerning the promises and encouragements, cannot satisfy, and with all that, he stands outside. The law condemns and Christ seems so far away.

Is that your life? What a blessing that you have an inner closet! Just lay your heart open saying, "Lord, I cannot leave this closet until I know that He is also my way." Reader, how sad if you do not have an inner closet! Then the Lord is not your highest benefit. Where will you then go when you come to the end of the road? Or do you not dare to say that you have an inner closet out of fear that you feel that your prayers are not true prayers?

Go then to that secret place and tell the Lord saying, "Lord, I am so afraid that with me all is nothing. My life is sinful and my prayers are empty." Just keep going that way. And if there are no words, go there anyway, and bow your knees and tell Him, "Lord, there are no words." You will find that He will give you words. Or are you one of those who must say that it was formerly different in your life but now all has become so cold? The Lord Jesus said, "But thou." That means you must come to an inner closet where you may speak to Him who always hears. "Oh, Lord, give life unto my soul!"

Rev. J. Den Hoed is pastor of the Netherlands Reformed Congregation of Rock Valley, Iowa.

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Bekijk de hele uitgave van vrijdag 1 april 1988

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

The Blessing of Knowing an Inner Closet

Bekijk de hele uitgave van vrijdag 1 april 1988

The Banner of Truth | 28 Pagina's

PDF Bekijken