"COME, NOW, AND LET US REASON TOGETHER, SAYS THE LORD" (ISAIAH 1.18)
—"The one reading, be understanding!" (Mk. 13.14; Mt. 24.15)
Brief studies and devotionals designed to elucidate the meaning of Scripture, increase our faith, and enable us to draw closer to God. To learn more about this column, see: "01—The Bible Was Written To Be Understood."
Praying in the presence of others is neither sinful nor inappropriate. Jesus prayed publicly (cf. Jn. 11.38ff; Mt. 26.26f; Mk. 8.6; etc.), as did his disciples (cf. Acts 16.25; 2.42; etc.). But praying publicly simply to be seen by others is highly unethical (Mt. 6.5). Those who pray for show “have their reward” (lit., to have one thing while being far away from something else) — in other words, human praise will be the only praise they will ever receive!
Instead, the godly individual takes no interest in how others perceive his prayers (cf. Dan. 6.10ff), for he will 1) “enter” into his “closet” (lit., inner storage-chamber) — i.e., not a physical room, but the hidden place of the heart (cf. Ps. 51.6; 91.1); 2) “shut the door” — i.e., free himself of any external distractions; and, 3) literally, “pray to your in-the-hidden-place father” — i.e., commune with him alone in the heavenly environment (cf. Lk. 17.21; Heb. 4.16; Eph. 3.17; 2.6).
In short, whether you utter your prayers in isolation or in public view, be alone with God as your audience and judge. Retreat to your inner, spiritual "closet" and shut the door, desiring “to be seen” by theLord, not man (Col. 3.23-24). Only then will he reward you “openly” (outwardly).