Oh, the times I’ve used that phrase. Oh, the times I’ve heard that phrase. Most of us think of misbehaving children being offered a place to cool down and rethink their actions. For some children, this is tantamount to a life sentence without parole. Others might find the time satisfying. We had one child that would not come out for hours after we offered.
Most times the command is used with pure intentions on the part of the parent. My wife has it with me; sometimes my adult daughter will even say “Daddy, go to your room and get your slippers on!” She’s usually right. Yet, sometimes the phrase is used out of frustration. Either way, a series of annoying and inappropriate public events has neared its climax – change is needed before disaster strikes!
No matter the motivation in the moment, alone time is required.
It seems Jesus understood the value of alone time. Our verse, which comes from the Sermon on the Mount, tells us that our personal time with God is best done “in secret.” Of course, he is not teaching against praying together as a group – but Jesus is condemning public displays that are designed to bring attention to ourselves.
Self-centered attention takes away from the flow and focus of the environment: it could be the room, the job or the greater society as in the case of the Jewish leadership of the time.
Instead, intentional time away from distractions is in order. Jesus’ plea includes shutting the door – it is just you and God in the room. This frees you from the pitfalls of the world – no phones, no computer, no radio, TV or other electronics. Just you, and God – the one who is everywhere he wants to be.
When is the last time you have allowed yourself to be alone and undistracted?
Luke tells us that Jesus often withdrew to quiet places. It does not matter where “your room” is – bedroom, prayer closet, garage or woodshed. Pick your place and go often – not to work, just to be.
Perhaps you’ll find it peaceful – a time to reflect, recharge, listen and consider what God has for you.