CLAIM: Jesus said, “When you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you” (Mt. 6:6). Does this mean that Jesus was against corporate prayer meetings, or praying in front of others at a Bible study?
RESPONSE: Jesus was condemning on hypocrisy—not corporate prayer. This ethic would apply to believers today who are trying to get the attention on themselves. There are a number of reasons for this interpretation:
First, the context. Jesus himself prays publicly and corporately in the next several verses (Mt. 6:9ff). He also prays publicly many times throughout his ministry. If Jesus was against all forms of public prayer, then he would need to be against his own prayers as well.
Second, the Lord’s Prayer is given in the plural—not the singular. Jesus models a prayer using plural pronouns (“Our Father… give us our daily bread… forgive us our debts”). This would point toward corporate prayer—not individual prayer.
Third, elsewhere, Jesus taught corporate prayer. Jesus said, “Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven. 20 For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst” (Mt. 18:19-20).