I’ve been fortunate to live in various types of dwellings. From dorm rooms to places with multi-million dollar views overlooking the Santa Barbara Riviera, but I have never had a prayer room. Granted, I’ve only been a Christian for 15 years, but even the places I’ve lived since being a Christian didn’t have prayer rooms. Indeed, right now I have two rooms. My bedroom/office and my kitchen. Oh yes, I have a bathroom too, but no prayer room.

When Jesus talked to his disciples about praying, he gave them this instruction.

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:6 (NIV)

When Jesus told his disciples to go into their rooms and pray, he wasn’t telling them that they needed to have a room set aside in their homes just for prayer. Now, if you have such a room, that’s great! If you don’t, that’s fine too. Your life as a Christian isn’t suffering from not having a prayer room (or closet).

If we don’t need a prayer room, then why does Jesus tell us to go into our room to pray? That’s a great question, and the answer can be found in Matthew 6:5.

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full.”

Matthew 6:5 (NIV)

In Jesus’ time, it wasn’t uncommon to see Rabbis standing on street corners or in other public places praying. These Rabbis were seeking praise and notoriety from people instead of seeking a right relationship with God. Hence, Jesus told his disciples to pray in secret. Just because we’re told to pray secretly doesn’t mean we can’t pray in public. Whether at a bus stop, church, or in the middle of the mall. What matters is our motives. To be clear, when I mention praying, I’m talking about praying out loud.

That’s why Jesus told his disciples to pray in secret. He wasn’t telling them they needed to pray in unique rooms. In fact, those who do have prayer rooms need to be careful not to announce their intention to pray before going into prayer. If we do, then it’s not much different than those Rabbis who stood on the corners praying.

In closing, I want to remind you that prayer is a conversation with God. While there are a lot of sites with great prayers, the best prayers are those where you are yourself. God knows you already, and he knows you better than you know yourself.