“But you, when you pray, go into your room and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Matthew 6:6
“Go sit in your cell and your cell will teach you everything.” St. Moses from the Sayings of the Desert Fathers
With the ups and downs of COVID-19 restrictions, several churches still do not have in person services. The recent rise of the Delta variant may have us wearing mask again even if we are fully vaccinated. Several of my friends have taken advantage of the many online Bible study and worship opportunities. One can hear a sermon from a preacher in Atlanta and listen to a choir of a denomination different than your own. Seeing that our forerunners of the faith were persecuted for not worshiping anyone else but Jesus Christ, it only makes sense for us to find some way or another to go to church. But, more importantly, we should all go to our cell.
It is easy to sing with the out of town choir on a streaming service, or give an “amen” to a preacher at a live service. In the Gospel, Jesus gives us a contrast between the synagogue and street corners vs. the room. No one else can see us. Many people came to the fourth century Egyptian deserts trying to hear words of salvation from this or that monk. Moses directs a brother to go to one place alone, his cell. The cell is the place and time where we deal with ourselves as we encounter God. We can safely admit to our limitations and weaknesses with complete honesty. As we trust Him, the Holy Spirit provides comfort, healing, and instruction.
Without complete honesty, time in our prayer room becomes a wasted echo chamber of our own self-esteem. Prayer and repentance can cut us spiritually when we reflect on the God’s holiness. Be encouraged. When Jesus prunes us in this world (John 15:14), we can have greater victories over our temptations and develop a more virtuous life. If we seek the Lord in our private spaces, our worship in public will have greater depth and meaning.