But you, when you pray, enter into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret; and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly.
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Having then discredited them, who order not this duty as they ought, both from the place and from their disposition of mind, and having shown that they are very ridiculous: He introduces the best manner of prayer, and again gives the reward, saying, Enter into your closet.
What then, it may be said, ought we not to pray in church? Indeed we ought by all means, but in such a spirit as this. Because everywhere God seeks the intention of all that is done. Since even if you should enter into your closet, and having shut the door, should do it for display, the doors will do you no good.
It is worth observing in this case also, how exact the definition, which He made when He said, That they may appear unto men. So that even if you shut the doors, this He desires you duly to perform, rather than the shutting of the doors, even to shut the doors of the mind. For as in everything it is good to be freed from vainglory, so most especially in prayer. For if even without this, we wander and are distracted, when shall we attend unto the things which we are saying, should we enter in having this disease also? And if we who pray and beseech attend not, how do we expect God to attend?
4. But yet some there are, who after such and so earnest charges, behave themselves so unseemly in prayer, that even when their person is concealed, they make themselves manifest to all by their voice, crying out disorderly, and rendering themselves objects of ridicule both by gesture and voice. Do you see not that even in a market place, should any one come up doing like this, and begging clamorously, he wilt drive away him whom he is petitioning; but if quietly, and with the proper gesture, then he rather wins over him that can grant the favor?
Let us not then make our prayer by the gesture of our body, nor by the loudness of our voice, but by the earnestness of our mind: neither with noise and clamor and for display, so as even to disturb those that are near us, but with all modesty, and with contrition in the mind, and with inward tears.
But are you pained in mind, and canst not help crying aloud? Yet surely it is the part of one exceedingly pained to pray and entreat even as I have said. Since Moses too was pained, and prayed in this way and was heard; for this cause also God said unto him, Wherefore do you cry unto me. Exodus 14:15 And Hannah too again, her voice not being heard, accomplished all she wished, forasmuch as her heart cried out. 1 Samuel 1:13 But Abel prayed not only when silent, but even when dying, and his blood sent forth a cry more clear than a trumpet. Genesis 4:10
Do thou also then groan, even as that holy one, I forbid it not. Rend, as the prophet commanded, Joel 2:13 your heart, and not your garments. Out of deeps call upon God, for it is said, Out of the depths have I cried to You, O Lord. From beneath, out of the heart, draw forth a voice, make your prayer a mystery. Do you see not that even in the houses of kings all tumult is put away, and great on all sides is the silence? Do thou also therefore, entering as into a palace—not that on the earth, but what is far more awful than it, that which is in heaven,— show forth great seemliness. Yea, for you are joined to the choirs of angels, and art in communion with archangels, and art singing with the seraphim. And all these tribes show forth much goodly order, singing with great awe that mystical strain, and their sacred hymns to God, the King of all. With these then mingle yourself, when you are praying, and emulate their mystical order.
For not unto men are you praying, but to God, who is everywhere present, who hears even before the voice, who knows the secrets of the mind. If you so pray, great is the reward you shall receive.
For your Father, says He, who sees in secret, shall reward you openly.
He said not, shall freely give you, but, shall reward you; yea, for He has made Himself a debtor to you, and even from this has honored you with great honor. For because He Himself is invisible, He would have your prayer be so likewise.