“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).
When Jesus speaks of going into a secret closet to seek the Father, He is talking about something much greater than a physical closet. The Old Testament tells us God divided His people into two categories: those who regularly seek Him in their secret place of prayer, and those who do not.
When God became angry with Israel over their idolatry, Moses pitched his prayer tent outside the camp. Scripture says, "It came to pass, that every one which sought the Lord went out unto the tabernacle of the congregation, which was without the camp" (Exodus 33:7). In the midst of all the idolatry taking place in Israel, God’s people still took time to seek the Lord. This seeking remnant knew they had to go outside the camp lest they, too, fall into the apostasy sweeping over the people.
Centuries later, the people under King Asa understood why God blessed and prospered them and kept them at peace with all their enemies: "Because we have sought the Lord our God . . . he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered" (2 Chronicles 14:7).
At one point during Asa's reign, an army of one million Ethiopians came against Israel. "And Asa cried unto the Lord his God, and said . . . O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee. So the Lord smote the Ethiopians before Asa . . . and the Ethiopians fled. . . . They were destroyed before the Lord" (verses 11-13). When Asa was attacked, he fell on his face and turned to God in prayer—and God answered with victory.
Shortly after that triumph, however, Azariah the prophet came to Asa and said: "The Lord is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you" (15:2). In other words: "If you stop seeking after God and calling on His name in all you do, He will forsake you."
Every time Israel sought the Lord after that, God blessed them: "When they in their trouble did turn unto the Lord the God of Israel, and sought him, he was found of them" (15:4). Israel enjoyed rest when they sought God in prayer and He always delivered them and gave them order and strength.