by D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (selected by Frank Cumbers)
From the world of sin, and noise
And hurry I withdraw;
For the small and inward voice
I wait with humble awe.
To make sure that I realize that I am approaching God, I have to exclude certain things. I have to enter into that closet [Matthew 6:6]. Now what does this mean?
...The principle is that there are certain things which we have to shut out whether we are praying in public or whether we are praying in secret. Here are some of them. You shut out and forget other people. Then you shut out and forget yourself. That is what is meant by entering into thy closet.
You can enter into that closet when you are walking alone in a busy street or going from one room to another in a house. You enter into that closet when you are in communion with God and nobody knows what you are doing. But if it is an actual public act of prayer, the same thing can be done....
What I try to do when I enter a pulpit is to forget the congregation in a certain sense. I am not praying to them or addressing them; I am not speaking to them. I am speaking to God; I am leading in prayer to God, so I have to shut out and forget people. Yes; and having done that, I shut out and forget myself. That is what our Lord tells us to do.
There is no value in my entering into the secret chamber and locking the door if the whole time I am full of self, and thinking about myself, and am priding myself on my prayer. I might as well be standing at the street corner.
No; I have to exclude myself as well as other people; my heart has to be open entirely and only to God. I say with the Psalmist: "Unite my heart to fear thy name. I will praise thee, O Lord my God, with all my heart." This is of the very essence of this matter of prayer. When we pray we must deliberately remind ourselves that we are going to talk to God. Therefore other people, and self also, must be excluded and locked out.
Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, ii, pp. 29-30
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