Read Matthew 6:1-15 and pay particular attention to verse 6. "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly."
I preached from this verse a message I titled, "What is in The Closet?". The closet was a chamber generally used for storage or privacy, a secret chamber. Jesus is telling us that we have to get away from things which distract us when it comes time to pray. Notice: "shut thy door." Shutting the door closes us in and things out - but some people cannot shut the door because they have too much in their lives between them and God. I want to name some things in the lives of people that keep them distracted, discouraged, defeated, divided and distanced from God when it comes time to pray.
- Skeletons of the past. Some people try to get alone in the prayer closet with God and find that there are things in the closet that keep them from really meeting with God. For example, some people have unforgiveness of others, broken promises to God, friendships violated, gossip, missed Church services, rebellion to the Holy Spirit, or robbery of God in tithes standing between them and God in the prayer closet. You can never shut the door and get alone with God while skeletons of the past hang in your closet.
- Scars of the past. When you get everything out of the closet, sometimes the Devil wants to bring up past failures and cause you to feel that you don't deserve to be fellowshipping with God in prayer. David said in Psalm 51:8, "Make me to hear joy and gladness; that the bones which thou hast broken may rejoice." When we have confessed and forsaken all known sin, the scars of past failures must not be a hindrance to shutting the door and being alone with God in prayer.
- Secret sins of the flesh. Psalm 66:18 states, "If I regard iniquity in my heart, the LORD will not hear me." Read Isaiah 59:1-2 and notice that it is sin that separates us from God in prayer.
- Social life that shuts God out and lets Satan in. We can never get alone with God in prayer and shut the door when we fellowship with the world. James 4:4 states, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? Whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God." See 1 Corinthians 15:33.
- Sensual thoughts that plague the mind. Friends, we cannot fill our minds with sensual thoughts and images and get alone with God! Phil. 4:8 states, "Finally brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think on these things." If you have a dirty, carnal, uncontrolled mind, you cannot shut the door and get alone with God!
What is in the closet that keeps you from getting alone with God in prayer and fellowship? Why not clean out the closet today? If you are not saved, you must first receive Christ by faith and then you have access to God in prayer.