Jesus instructs us, “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.” (Matthew 6:6) Jesus included this instruction in the body of a discourse on “motivation and the secret heart.” Preaching the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus is admonishing the people with regard to their inner life and the reason they do the things they do, “in order to be seen by men” (6:1b). The motivation and practice of prayer are linked in the heart as the mind forms and the body reacts. Private prayer is exactly that, private. It is a time to be naked and vulnerable before God in a special way and it should carry no pretense.
Let us pray,
These three words are so often anticipated in liturgy that the body moves even before they are spoken. Our worship on Sunday (and at all worship times) is a corporate gathering in which we pray together. Indeed, we are alone in our prayer with God, but we are alone with God even as we are gathered one to another as God’s chosen people. Our public prayer is edifying to God because of our gathering, we gather together to praise and petition for ourselves and each other—together.
Let us pray,
How do you hear these words when you are in worship? What does your spirit do, and your mind say? Our sacred time together in worship is as important as your time alone. Jesus tells us, “your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” He speaks here of the heart as well the body: our devotion to God is known only to us and originates in the secret places of our heart and spirit.
Let us pray,
Dear heavenly Father,
Thank You for the calling, privilege, and importance of worshiping together on the Lord’s Day and every time we gather in Your Holy Name. Because it’s a calling, we dare not dismiss it easily, or take it lightly. Because it’s You we get to meet with, may we come prepared, expectant, and evermore grateful.
According to the Scriptures, our gatherings will become increasingly important, as the Day of Jesus’ return grows closer and closer. Help us to take corporate worship more seriously and engage more whole-heartedly than ever.
Dear Lord Jesus, I love and worship You for all that You have done for us, and Lord I long to worship You in spirit and in truth, just as You told the woman at the well. Thank You for making me in Your own image, and for all the many blessings and benefits that You have bestowed on me. Lord, I want to surrender to You, completely; to present myself as a living sacrifice before You each day; to take up my cross daily and present myself to You as my spiritual act of worship, for You alone are worthy, You alone are the Lord.
Open my eyes to see You more. Open my ears to hear Your still small voice and open my heart to worship You more and more so that I may grow in grace and in knowledge of my Lord, Jesus Christ.
Father, may we, as your beloved children, give you, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit the worship of which you are alone worthy. Feed our minds with your Word; fill our hearts with your grace; empower our worship by your Spirit. May we gather, not as selfish consumers, looking to be pleased; but as true worshipers, longing to be consumed with your glory and grace.
We pray for those who lead us in your worship, and those who bring us your Word. Theirs is great stewardship and responsibility. May the gospel be powerful in their hearts and fresh on their lips. May they see and savor Jesus, that we might do the same. Free them to honor and glorify you and empower them to love and serve us.
Father, through our corporate worship, we pray you will be blessed, revealed, and magnified; and that we will be humbled, gladdened, and transformed. As we lift Jesus up, we trust you to take us low and draw the nations in. Amen! Amen! Amen! we pray. Let it be so in Jesus’ loving and worship-worthy name.
Father Bill Burk†