But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you.
There are certain things without which a relationship cannot thrive. Imagine your husband or wife is openly affectionate with you in front of others. Regardless of who is around you, you catch your spouse throwing secret glances your way and whispering sweet nothings to you. It is as if you are giddy teenagers who have fallen in love for the first time. Those who witness this may be envious of how loving your relationship is. Imagine now that this is the way your spouse behaves only when others are around you. He or she shows no affection in private. One would expect you to be suspect of the nature of your relationship because, although you are experiencing public affection, you are not experiencing intimacy. What you receive from your spouse is a show for others, but you receive nothing when you are the sole audience member. We cannot let our prayer life be this way.
When we pray, we have the opportunity to reach a level of great intimacy with God. Praying is one way that we show the love that we have for him. While there will be many instances when corporate prayer is appropriate, we cannot live successful spiritual lives without the intimacy of private prayer with our Father. This is the difference between telling others about the love I have for my wife and telling my wife about the love I have for her. Of course she rejoices in my telling the world how I feel about her. She can see that I am proud of our love and feel honored to be her husband. But if I do not take the time to tell her in private how I feel, then the devotion I have for her appears to be merely a show I put on for others to see. While our relationship may experience affection at times it will lack true intimacy. This intimacy can be built only during our private time.
When we pray in private, we open ourselves up to trust God with the deepest things within us that we do not necessarily share with the world. We are speaking a love letter to God and creating an atmosphere of intimacy that can only be attained when we are alone with him. There are things we say that we only say to him. There are things we feel that we only feel for him. This is our private relationship with God that He desires for each of us to have. Like the lovers who share secrets that no one else will know, our Father in heaven desires that we share our secrets with him. Prayer is not merely about making requests but about developing our personal relationship with our bridegroom. Father, thank You for the intimacy that You make available to us through private prayer, and help us to make our prayers a time of true intimacy with You.