One of oft-repeated phrases that I heard as a child from my parents was the persistent command to “shut the door”. Sometimes it was followed by the question: “were you born in a barn”. Children need to be reminded that there are certain things we need to shut out or shut in. My parents wanted to shut out the flies and mosquitoes. They also wanted to shut in the heat or the cool air. We need to often follow the urgency in those 3 words to “shut the door”.
In His sermon on the mount Jesus spoke about the vital importance of prayer. He warned about the Pharisees who made a public spectacle of praying. They stood in the synagogues and street corners and prayed so that everyone around could hear and marvel at their piety. Jesus then said that the only audience and the only reward they received would be from the immediate hearers. In other words, God would not hear the prayers of anyone who prayed just to impress others. He then described the kind of praying that God hears: “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matt. 6:6).
What does it mean to “shut the door” in prayer? Do we have to literally go into a closet or private room to pray? I believe Jesus was teaching us some valuable principles as we shut the door in prayer. First of all we need to direct our prayers to God alone. He alone is our audience. We need to commune with our Father in heaven. We shut the door when we close out all distractions. Get away from the noise, the music, and the sounds of this world so we can concentrate on God. One of the hardest things about shutting the door in prayer is to shut out the tendency from our mind to wander.
I wonder if we have been letting in the flies of distractions and wandering thoughts into our times of prayer. Don’t you think it’s time to get alone with God and follow Jesus instruction to shut the door?