Jesus said to His disciples in Matthew 6:6, “But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees in secret will repay you” (NAS).
Generally, when we have our quiet time, we think of, and we are involved mainly in the mechanics of the quiet time. That is, we come to our desk with our Bible and notebook, we read, we study, we meditate on a passage of the Word, we write down a few notes, and we pray. And we say, “I have had my quiet time.” But I wonder what God would think of it. We sometimes should ask ourselves, “Have I met God today, or have I just been plodding through the mechanics of a quiet time?” Jesus never taught the mechanics of a quiet time. He wasn’t concerned with methods. Here in Matthew 6:6 Jesus gives us not the mechanics or the activities of a quiet time, rather He gives us the approach and the nature of a quiet time. He tells us how to meet God and how to hear Him. And that is really the main goal of a quiet time.
So here in this verse Jesus tells us what to do. If you want to hear God, He says, first, “go into your inner room.” Then, “shut your door.” Third, He says, “when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Now what did He mean?
When He said, “go into your inner room,”He was saying that the prayers of a quiet time are to be done in private, praying only to God, rather than in public where everyone can see you (v. 5). The nature of a quiet time then is to get alone with God, to a place where nobody is watching or distracting, to a place where we can close the door to all outside distractions.
This place, where Jesus calls the closet or the inner room, may be literally a closet or a room in the house where there are no other people or distractions, and even no windows where one would be tempted to look out and be distracted by whatever is outside. However, I think Jesus had a broader meaning. He meant any place of privacy and secrecy. Jesus’ closet or place of privacy was typically a garden, a mountain, or the wilderness. The devout Jewish people in Jesus time often chose to pray on their roof tops (Read Acts 10:9).
According to Barns, from Barns Notes:
Every Jewish house had a place for secret devotion. The roofs of their houses were FLAT places, well adapted for walking, conversation, and meditation…Professor Hackett (“Illustra- tions of Scripture,” p. 82) says: “On the roof of the house in which I lodged at Damascus were chambers and rooms along the side and at the corners of the open space or terrace, which constitutes often a sort of upper story. I observed the same thing in connection with other houses.” Over the porch, or entrance of the house, there was frequently a small room of the size of the porch, raised a story above the rest of the house, expressly appropriated for the place of retirement. Here, in secrecy and solitude, the pious Jew might offer his prayers, unseen by any but the Searcher of hearts. To this place, or to some similar place, our Saviour directed his disciples to retire when they wished to hold communion with God. This is the place commonly mentioned in the New Testament as the ‘upper room,’ or the place for secret prayer.