“When Thou Prayest, Enter into Thy Closet”

Brant Gardner

This passage begins a teaching on prayer that extends to verse 13. The transitional element is, again, the hypocrites, who perform on-stage. Jesus is not forbidding public prayer; he assumes it and also assumes its reward. Instead, he is focusing his listeners’ attention on the purpose of this particular act of piety. If someone prays to impress an audience, then the reward is the audience’s attention and, perhaps, its praise for eloquence or oratorical flourishes. In such cases, the act receives its reward of those to whom it was truly addressed—a human audience. The verse concludes with the same principle as the unit on alms. Prayers offered with the goal of praising God will receive his reward.

Comparison: There are two changes in this passage, the second required by the first:

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not dobe 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. (Matt. 6:5)

The first change is the removal of “are” which was italicized in the KJV, then the change required to accommodate that absence. The verse’s meaning does not change.

Second Witness: Analytical & Contextual Commentary on the Book of Mormon, Vol. 5