“Open Door” Series #3
"ENTERING THE "PRAYER CLOSET DOOR!"
TEXT: Matt. 6:5-6,19-21
INTRO: Jesus when teaching about prayer invites His disciples not to be concerned about the public demonstration of prayer ... but to find a place of prayer in a special "closet!"
The term “prayer closet” comes from this passage of scripture; but many really don’t comprehend what it actually means, because they are thinking of a regular closet, not the “treasure room” which is the literal translation from the Greek word used.
So, what was Jesus trying to say here?
PROP. SENT: The Bible teaches us to have a private prayer life that is an important part of our relationship with God.
I. CLOSET LIFE! Matt. 6:5-6
A. The Room Matt. 6:6
1. The Greek word here is “temeion” (tameion) which literally means "treasure room!"
a. It was a secret room in every home where the family's treasurers were kept for safety reasons!
b. It was a secure room designed to keep safe ones' treasures from thieves!
c. For this reason, it was a room usually known only to the family members!
2. Here a man would go from time to time to be around his treasures and contemplate his wealth, it was the room where security was found!
3. It is this “treasure room” (KJV calls it a “closet”) that Jesus says we are to enter when we pray!
4. The concept used in Matt. 6:21 where Jesus talks about “laying up treasures in Heaven” may play into this “treasure room” idea!
5. Today in modern Greece, the “temeion” is the cashier in a store or office. The word translated "closet" in some translations is still in use today but means “cashier!”
6. It is ironic that Jesus would choose this room to be the place or prayer ... or maybe it makes more sense than it seems!
a. Notice that the Temple of God had a treasure room! *Neh. 10:38
b. Hezekiah got into trouble because he took allies into the treasure room in God’s Temple and took pride in how much he had ... forgetting God in such a room can be easy, unless of course we take God in there with us because otherwise all we will see is our “treasure.”
c. The Ethiopian Eunuch is described as the “Treasurer of Candice, Queen of Ethiopia” in Acts 8:27 ... yet, he is reflecting on God, not Candice's treasure room ... no wonder God sends Philip to talk to him!
7. Our treasures need Christ's presence or we will forget Him!
ILLUS: CITY TEMPLE IN LONDON ... EMIL METTLE WHO WAS A FRIEND OF ALBERT SCHWEITZER THE GREAT MEDICAL MISSIONARY AND ACTED AT TIMES AS AN AGENT FOR HIM OWNED A RESTAURANT. IT WAS HIS PRACTICE NOT TO CHARGE CHRISTIAN WORKERS WHO ATE THERE. ONE DAY HOWEVER WHEN THE SECRETARY OF THE LONDON MISSIONARY SOCIETY WAS PRESENT, HE DID OPEN HIS CASH REGISTER, AND THERE SITTING IN THE TRAY WITH ALL THE BILLS AND COINS SAT A 6 INCH NAIL. THE SECRETARY SURPRISED ASKED, "WHAT WAS THAT NAIL DOING THERE?" HE ASKED METTLE. METTLE EXPLAINED, "I KEEP THIS NAIL WITH MY MONEY TO REMIND ME OF THE PRICE THAT CHRIST PAID FOR MY SALVATION AND WHAT I OWE HIM IN RETURN!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
8. God wants to be invited into our “treasure room” where we can commune with Him!
a. We should not be uncomfortable with Jesus' presence among our treasures, unless of course we have improper treasures stored there, or we are hoarding them and not sharing with God and man!
b. If He is in our “treasure room” ... we are not nearly as likely to focus on those treasures as we are to commune with him!
ILLUS: AN OLD RICH MAN WAS MISERABLE ... SO HE SOUGHT OUT A WISE OLD RABBI FOR ADVICE. HE TOLD THE RABBI HE WAS UNHAPPY THOUGH RICH AND HE ASKED WHY? THE WISE RABBI TOOK HIM BY THE HAND OVER TO A WINDOW AND ASKED HIM WHAT HE SAW! DOWN BELOW WAS A PARK AND HE SAID, "I SEE CHILDREN PLAYING AND FAMILY'S HAVING PICNICS … THERE ARE PEOPLE EVERYWHERE!" NEXT HE TOOK HIM BY THE HAND OVER TO A MIRROR AND ASKED HIM WHAT HE SAW NOW! THE RICH MAN RESPONDED, "ALL I SEE IS MYSELF NOW!" THE RABBI EXPLAINED, THE WINDOW AND THE MIRROR ARE MADE OF THE SAME THING ... GLASS, BUT AS SOON AS YOU ADD A LITTLE SILVER TO IT ALL YOU CAN SEE IS YOURSELF AND NO ONE ELSE! THE MAN WAS ALONE WITH HIS TREASURES ... SOMEONE ELSE NEEDED TO COME INTO THAT TREASURE ROOM OF HIS! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
1. Focus must go off of treasures to Christ ... this is why we are told by Jesus to go into this room to pray, to take the focus off of our treasures and put it on Christ!
a. In a treasure room a man is focused on what he had, not on what he didn't have!
b. If he was alone in there with only his treasures, this is all he thought about!
2. Christ's presence in our treasure room will guard our hearts against improper attitudes toward earthly treasures!
ILLUS: LIKE THE LITTLE BOY NAMED BRIAN WHO WAS AT A BIRTHDAY PARTY AND WHEN THE TIME CAME TO SERVE THE CAKE HE BLURTED OUT, "I WANT THE BIGGEST PIECE!"... THIS BROUGHT MOM'S PRESENCE IN QUICKLY AND SHE ATTEMPTED TO CORRECT THE EMBARRASSMENT BY TEACHING BRIAN THIS: "BRIAN, IT IS NOT POLITE TO ASK FOR THE BIGGEST PIECE OF CAKE." NO SOONER WAS THIS OVER HOWEVER WHEN BRIAN ASKED LOUDLY, "WELL THEN, HOW DO YOU GET THE BIGGEST PIECE!" – SOURCE UNKNOWN
3. Only mom’s presence could keep the situation in hand ... hence Jesus' request that we use this room to pray in rather than just focus on our earthly treasures ... to keep our attitudes in check with God's presence in the very room that might lead to pride!
a. Having Christ enter this room by prayer might also help us realize what treasures need to be cleared out!
b. This was a real sign of trust to bring someone else into this room ... it was the secret room after all ... to invite someone's presence in this room was a display of absolute trust in that person with all your treasures!
4. All this ties in closely with Matthew 6:19-21 and the idea of “treasure” in verse 21: “for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also!”
a. In this passage the word “treasure” here relays the idea of laying up eternal things rather than earthly things.
b. Jesus understood the connection between our heart and treasures ... that's why He wants entrance to this room!!!
II. CLOSET LIMITS! Matt. 6:19-21
A. New Room!
1. Jesus adds something new here ... move the treasure room or closet to a new location!
a. To heaven!
b. This way Christ can rule over it, and we can still come in prayer to visit it ... but here it is safe from robbers! And since it is in heaven we must come in a spiritual way to enter into a spiritual realm!
2. He also instructs us to change the treasures we store ... from earthly things to heavenly stuff!
3. This will preserve a "secret place" from Satan's attempts to break in and steal ... he won't find this room or our treasures because he has no access to God’s dwelling place!
4. Having a new room for treasures and new treasures will adjust our focus from an earthly one to a heavenly one!
a. Focus is so important in our lives!
b. This is why Jesus wanted prayer in this room in the first place ... to change the focus off of our treasures to Him!
ILLUS: ALBERT EINSTEIN NEAR THE END OF HIS LIFE HAD TWO VERY PROMINENT PAINTINGS REMOVED FROM A VERY PRESTIGIOUS PLACE IN HIS HOME AND REPLACED WITH TWO NEW PAINTINGS VERY DIFFERENT. THE TWO PROMINENT PAINTINGS WERE OF VERY SUCCESSFUL SCIENTISTS, NEWTON AND MAXWELL. WHEN THESE WERE TAKEN DOWN, THEY WERE REPLACED WITH PAINTINGS OF GANDHI AND SCHWEITZER. WHEN ASKED WHY HE DID THIS HE REPLIED, “I THOUGHT THE TIME HAD COME TO REPLACE THE IMAGE OF SUCCESS WITH THE IMAGE OF SERVICE” ... HE REALIZED NOW HIS FOCUS HAD BEEN WRONG! – SOURCE UNKNOWN
5. Our prayer closet now is transformed!
B. New Location! Matt. 6:21
1. Notice too the location changes for this room -- to heaven!
a. Now when we want to save valuables and enter our "closet" or “treasure room” ... we go right into God's presence!
b. Instead of us worrying about the security of all the treasures, God can watch over it all … thus freeing us to commune with Him fully!
2. Moving treasures to a secret place in heaven was a brilliant idea to free us to fellowship with Christ unencumbered by fears and pride!
3. Since our heart seems to always be focused in the place of our treasures, how much more sense to have those treasures in heaven anyways so that our heart stays there too!
4. Someday perhaps this treasure room will be included in our mansion in Heaven ... still full of those treasures we put there ... and our full communion with Christ directly in it!
5. If both our treasures and treasure room are now in heaven, when we enter it, we come right into God's domain and Christ meets us there!
a. Since our “heart is where our treasures are” ... we must be sure to have Christ come into this room!
b. Now we can enter our "prayer closet" or “treasure room” ... not only is our heart there but so is the master!
CONCLUSION: HAVE YOU ENTERED YOUR “PRAYER CLOSET” ... the “treasure room!” AND, MORE IMPORTANTLY, HAS CHRIST BEEN ALLOWED IN TOO? When you enter your “treasure room” are you alone, or do you have company in there?