Friday, August 12, 2005

The Closet

Matthew 6:5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6:6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
6:9 After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
6:10 Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
6:11 Give us this day our daily bread.
6:12 And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
6:13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

In contrast to common practice, where we all stand up and pray that prayer in unison, Jesus tells us to do it in the closet!. Hey! have we been wrong all these years? (Of course Friends rarely do it, but I'm talking here to the Church in general.)

Phyllis Tickle, on pages 155-61 of God-talk, tells a fascinating story of how she discovered that the Lord's Prayer was directed by Jesus to our closets.

For closet re tallith (I know this sounds very very weird to many of us): At a book trade show she came across a Jewish bookstall; in fact she found four such booths. They were all selling talliths (prayer shawls) to hordes of fundy and evangelical wholesale buyers.

She got an explanation from one of the Jewish merchants: in the mid 90's three "prominent and powerful preachers" were saying talliths are closets, where Jesus told us to pray. She wondered if these three men were trying to put themselves out of business.

She concluded that these pastors' positions "justifies more and more disestablishment of formal religion .. and encourages the decentralization of religion's institutions". Were they trying to put themselves out of business? or did they just foresee the redefinition of religion in America?

Sure enough it sounds more like divinization than salvation through the blood of Christ, and that is a solitary activity between you and God.