“When you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, who love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on street corners so that others may see them. Amen, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will repay you. In praying, do not babble like the pagans, who think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” (MATTHEW 6:5-8)
I am blessed with three young sons,10, six and three years-old. My house is always full of energy, and very few minutes of the day are ever quiet. There is a constant level of activity. Even as babies all three of them were quick to make their presence known. I still very clearly remember the last time I was able to enjoy a peaceful worship service at church. It was my first Christmas Eve as a mother, and my oldest was barely a month old. It wasn’t long after that when attending a worship service with my children became so much of a chore that I sadly admit that we still rarely attend all together.
I’ve managed to have my older sons attend Sunday school on a fairly regular basis. They’ve attended faith-based preschools and daycares. I talk often about God and my faith. When we talk about the challenges of their days I try to reflect on how their faith directs them in their own lives. We pray every night, and I’m proud to hear my 10 year-old speak to Jesus like a friend and offer up his deepest thoughts and concerns for the Holy Spirit’s counsel.
I’ve carried around a lot of guilt for this over the years. I’ve often wondered what people must think — that I only occasionally attend service by myself. Or what must it look like that we’ve been absent for so long just to come for Christmas Eve service. I still hold fast to the goal of attending church as a family and know that day will come very soon. But this verse reminds me that it’s not about others seeing us pray or worship. It reminds me that God is just as present around our kitchen table and at our bedside, and God is always listening and supporting us.