Prayer: Intimate Communion

In Matthew 6:5-8, Jesus teaches us that prayer is intimate communion with our heavenly Father. When we pray, we come to our heavenly Father with the knowledge and assurance that He loves us, because He is our Father. In verses 5-8, Jesus points us back to the Father three times. Then, in verse 9, when He teaches us what we call “the Lord’s Prayer”, He says we are to begin our prayers by going straight to “Our Father in Heaven”. (Maybe reclaiming the Roman Catholic title of this prayer – the “Our Father” – would be a helpful reminder of this reality.)

Jesus tells us that our heavenly Father sees us in secret places. Whether we are in a private room with the door closed voluntarily or in solitary confinement in a prison, we can be assured that our “Father who is in secret” also “sees in secret” and will hear us. Wherever we are, He sees us and will hear us.

Furthermore, Jesus tells us that our loving heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask Him for anything. And, because He has adopted us in Jesus, we can have absolute assurance that He already knows how He will meet our needs, for He is a good, good Father.

Jesus tells us that such a view of prayer – that prayer is an intimate communion with a loving Father who is able to do all He determines to do for our good (because He’s in heaven) and who sees us in secret (though He’s in heaven) and knows all we need and will meet those needs – such a view drives away hypocrisy and hopelessness in prayer.

In verses 5-6, Jesus warns against being like the hypocrites in prayer. The hypocrites pray the way they do “so they may be seen by others.” Not knowing the acceptance they can have with the Father through Jesus, they look for acceptance from other people.

In verses 7-8, Jesus warns against praying like the hopeless – they think they must use many words (Jesus describes it as “heaping up empty phrases”) to be heard by someone. There is no relationship with that someone. They have to vie for that someone’s attention. But, we have a heavenly Father who knows what we need before we even ask Him, and He’s always listening to us.

Do you see prayer as a chore or as a time of intimate communion with your heavenly Father? Do you know you are accepted by Him because of what Christ did for you? Do you pray without confidence He is there with you or knows what you need? He loves you, and He demonstrated that love for you before you were His son or daughter – when we were still His enemies (see Romans 5:6-11). Go to Him in confidence and assurance.