When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place…Matthew 6:6
The primary thought in the area of religion is— keep your eyes on God, not on people. Your motivation should not be the desire to be known as a praying person. Find an inner room in which to pray where no one even knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret. Have no motivation other than to know your Father in heaven. It is impossible to carry on your life as a disciple without definite times of secret prayer.
“When you pray, do not use vain repetitions…” (Matthew 6:7). God does not hear us because we pray earnestly— He hears us solely on the basis of redemption. God is never impressed by our earnestness. Prayer is not simply getting things from God— that is only the most elementary kind of prayer. Prayer is coming into perfect fellowship and oneness with God. If the Son of God has been formed in us through regeneration (see Galatians 4:19), then He will continue to press on beyond our common sense and will change our attitude about the things for which we pray.
“Everyone who asks receives…” (Matthew 7:8). We pray religious nonsense without even involving our will, and then we say that God did not answer— but in reality we have never asked for anything. Jesus said, “…you will ask what you desire…” (John 15:7). Asking means that our will must be involved. Whenever Jesus talked about prayer, He spoke with wonderful childlike simplicity. Then we respond with our critical attitude, saying, “Yes, but even Jesus said that we must ask.” But remember that we have to ask things of God that are in keeping with the God whom Jesus Christ revealed. From My Utmost for His Highest Updated Edition
It is perilously possible to make our conceptions of God like molten lead poured into a specially designed mould, and when it is cold and hard we fling it at the heads of the religious people who don’t agree with us.
Joseph’s own brothers had attacked him, thrown him into a cistern and sold him into slavery (see Genesis 37:12-28)—causing him to be separated from his loving father for over 20 years. And though Joseph had much to forgive, he did not dwell on the offenses. He gained grace from God and let go of what others had done to him. His response is a healthy model for us when we’ve been hurt or sinned against: we need to let it go and then get what we need from God and people who can give. That is a better life. Unforgiveness destroys a good life. Forgiveness creates it.
Forgiveness is not denial. We need to name the sin against us to forgive it, as Joseph did (see Genesis 45:4-5; 50:20). He worked through it. He named it. He expressed his feelings about it. And then he let it go. We need to watch out for the resistance that will want us to stay in the past, trying to collect a debt that will never be paid.