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Sweet Hour of Prayer

"But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you." Matthew 6:6 ESV,

Growing up, one of my great joys was spending the night at my grandparents' Chambers home. There were always freshly baked cookies in the jar, the Waltons on TV, and a general sense of love and feeling special. In the early morning, I would overhear my meek and quiet Grandma Annamae in her private place, praying. Her earnest petitions, nothing was happening except for her having a friendly heartfelt conversation with Jesus. She would pour out her heart in gratitude and petition God for the sick and needy. But she also prayed for her family. That God would protect us and we would be close to him.

Before Jesus gave his disciples the example of prayer we know as The Lord's Prayer, he gave the instructions in today's scripture. Some folks would pray loudly in church and even on street corners to demonstrate their religiosity. However, their prayers went no further than the air around them, reaching not God's ears but only those they hoped to impress. Since this was their objective, Jesus said they had already received their reward.

But Jesus instructs them to go into a private place, close the door, and pray where they can't be heard. We do this not because we are ashamed of being overheard but because it's an intimate conversation. In this quality one-on-one alone time without distractions and interruptions, we can pour out our hearts to God, and we can more clearly hear his response.

An old song in the United Methodist Hymnal, "Sweet Hour of Prayer" #496, captures the intimacy of this essential time.

Sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer!

That calls me from a world of care,

And bids me at my Father's throne

Make all my wants and wishes known.

In seasons of distress and grief,

My soul has often found relief,

And oft escaped the tempter's snare

By Thy return, sweet hour of prayer

Sweet hour of prayer!

Sweet hour of prayer!

The joys I feel, the bliss I share

Of those whose anxious spirits burn

With strong desires for Thy return!

With such I hasten to the place

Where God my Savior shows His face,

And gladly take my station there

And wait for Thee, sweet hour of prayer.

Precious and loving God, we thank you for the honor of having quiet alone time. In our busy world, it is easy to get distracted and miss out on this intimate time spent in your grace. Help us slow down, find a place of silence, and not only talk but listen for what you would have us do. In the name of your Son Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.


Pastor Tim

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