Exploring Prayer With
By Pastor Jack Hyles (1926-2001)
Chapter 33 — The Place to Pray
Let us establish first and foremost that the child of God can pray anywhere. In John 4:21-24 Jesus told the woman at the well that the day had come when "they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth." This statement was made in response to her telling him that the Jews worshipped in Jerusalem and the Samaritans worshipped in Sychar. So the child of God can worship and pray from any place on earth.
It IS, however, a good idea to have a set time to meet God on a regular basis. It is also a good idea to have a certain place. Matthew 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." Notice, the Lord Jesus suggests that we enter into a closet. In other words, He is suggesting a special place where we meet Him.
A person can eat anywhere in the house. He can eat in the bedroom, the bathroom, the family room, the basement or the attic. We all sometimes do eat a bite or so in various places around the house; however, there is one room in the house that we designate as the eating place. This does not mean we always eat every bite of food there, but it does mean that there are regular times when we go there to eat.
One can sleep anywhere in the house. He can sleep in the kitchen. He can sleep in the bathroom. He can sleep in the dining room, but there is a designated place and a designated time for sleep. Sometimes a person may fall asleep in a chair in the living room, or he may lie down on the sofa and fall off to sleep, but there is a special place designated for sleep where most sleeping is done.
A person can bathe anywhere in the house. When I was a boy we had no bathtub, so I bathed in a #2 tub in the front room. However, we have in our houses a place called the bathroom. It is there that we normally bathe.
Now it is not conducive to good health for us to decide to eat some time in some place, but rather to eat at the same time in the same place. It is not conducive to good health for us to sleep some time at some place when we get around to it. It is best for us to sleep at the same time at the same place. It is not wise for us to decide to bathe some time at some place, but rather to bathe at the same time at the same place. It is best to form the habit of meeting God on a regular basis at the same time at the same place. This does not mean that we should not be in communication with God all the time; it simply means that there should be scheduled times when we meet God at a certain place. This is certainly within the boundaries of the Word of God.
Daniel met God at a window. Daniel 6:10, "Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime." Peter met God on the rooftop. Acts 10:9, "On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour." Lydia met God beside a river. Acts 16:13, "And on the sabbath we went out of the city by a river side, where prayer was wont to be made; and we sat down, and spake unto the women which resorted thither." The disciples met God in an upper room. Acts 1:13,14, "And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren." Some met God at the house of God. II Chronicles 7:15, " Now Mine eyes shall be open, and Mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place." Isaiah 56:7, " Even them will I bring to My holy mountain, and make them joyful in My house of prayer: their burnt offerings and their sacrifices shall be accepted upon Mine altar; for Mine house shall be called an house of prayer for all people." The Lord Jesus met God in the garden of Gethsemane on the slopes of the mount of Olives.
God wants us to include prayer in our lives of self-discipline and schedule. He knows that we will pray more if we will have set times and set places. This is not to say that we are to make holy places, and we are not to believe that God will come nearer meeting us there than He would somewhere else, but it is good for us to associate a certain place with our prayer time, just like we associate a certain place with preaching time, with Sunday school time, etc. It may be a special closet, a special chair, a window, a tree, a lake, a road, a corner of a room.
For 20 years Jacob was away from Bethel. Often he heard the call to come back to Bethel. This was the call to come back to God, for it was at bethel where Jacob met God, where he built an alter and where he began tithing. Genesis 31:11-13, "And the angel of God spake unto me in a dream, saying, Jacob: And I said, Here am I. And he said, Lift up now thine eyes, and see, all the rams which leap upon the cattle are ringstraked, speckled, and grisled: for I have seen all that Laban doeth unto thee. I am the God of Bethel, where thou anointedst the pillar, and where thou vowedst a vow unto me: now arise, get thee out from this land, and return unto the land of thy kindred." Jacob could have gotten right with God where he was. He could have chosen any hill, any mound, any valley, any river, any tree and could have gotten right with God, but he found it easier to get right with God at Bethel. God was not at bethel any more than God was at Haran, but somehow Jacob knew that if he could get back to Bethel, it would remind him of his early days of fellowship with his God.
I love to go to that little spot just outside the back door of the Fernwood Baptist Church in Dallas, Texas, where almost a half century ago I knelt and received Christ. I love to kneel there and thank God for saving me. Now I can thank God for saving me wherever I am, and I often thank Him for salvation. This gratitude rises from many places across the country, but somehow I'm a little more grateful and my gratitude is a little more unique when I go to that little place where I first received the Saviour.
Isn't it easier to get hungry sitting at the table? Isn't it easier to get sleepy lying on the bed? It might be that if we had a special little place where we pray, we may learn to associate that place with prayer.
Why did the disciples choose that upper room as a place of prayer? Perhaps it was because it was there where they had observed the last supper. It was there where they heard the incomparable words of Jesus in John 14:1-3, "Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto Myself; that where I am, there ye may be also." It was there where the Lord Jesus washed their feet. Somehow that upper room was a dear place to them. Now they did not have to pray in the upper room. They could have had their prayer meeting in any room or in any place, and God would have heard.
It must be emphasized and reiterated that God does not meet us just at one place. It is so easy to make a place sacred, and that is not the purpose of this chapter. This kind of reasoning leads to worship centers, divided chancels, ritualistic services and other similar forms of foolishness. The entire purpose for the author advancing this suggestion is for our own self-discipline. Having a place and a time to pray does not make the time or the place more sacred than any other time or place; it simply causes frail creatures like you and me to be a lot more disciplined and to take time to pray.
This is one reason why we get sleepy at night and hungry at noon. We have formed the habit of getting sleepy at night and hungry at noon. This is the main reason God gives us a place and a time to tithe. 1st Corinthians 16:2, "Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come." This is the reason that many of us like to sit in the same place at church. This is not because God meets us at this particular pew. It is not confining God to one location or one time at all. It is simply enabling feeble souls such as yours and mine to meet God on a regular basis at a particular place in order that we may remember to meet Him.
PREVIOUS | NEXT | TABLE OF CONTENTS