Matthew 6:6 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

Matthew 6:6, NIV: But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.

Matthew 6:6, ESV: But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

Matthew 6:6, KJV: 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.

Matthew 6:6, NASB: But as for you, 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.

Matthew 6:6, NLT: But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.

Matthew 6:6, CSB: But when you pray, go into your private room, shut your door, and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

What does Matthew 6:6 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

To some of Jesus' listeners, His teaching to do righteous things in secret may have sounded radical. In highly religious and even legalistic communities, it's easy to think that the point of religious activity is to be seen by others. Societies that stress honor versus shame put a high priority on appearing acceptable to your family members, neighbors, and church community. Jesus turns this upside down and warns that if the opinion of other people is the only motive, God will not reward such actions. Instead, Jesus commands His followers to give to the needy as secretly as possible to avoid even the possibility of mixed motives (Matthew 6:1–4).

For the same reasons, Jesus has said that regular prayer to the Father should be done in secret, behind closed doors (Matthew 6:5). The Father will still hear and reward you, and He is the only audience that matters.

This command should not be read as forbidding any kind of public praying in church or anywhere else. It is good for Christian behavior to shine like a light in the world (Matthew 5:16). What Jesus condemns, here, is for those praying in public—including church services and other events—to be aware of their motives. If they cannot pray publicly without feeling as if they are "performing" for other listeners, it is better to pray silently or in a private setting, instead.