Jeremiah prophesied that all shepherds who refuse to seek God in prayer will fail: "For the pastors are become brutish, and have not sought the Lord: therefore they shall not prosper, and all their flocks shall be scattered" (Jeremiah 10:21).
The scene Jeremiah described is exactly what we are seeing today in the church. Many shepherds have become lazy and neglectful. They see their calling as only a job—a paycheck. They lean on the arm of their flesh instead of seeking to know God's heart through prayer. They have lost all power to feed and keep the sheep in order, and the sheep are being scattered.
The unity that once kept churches strong is now being broken up. Jeremiah said of his day: "My tabernacle is spoiled, and all my cords are broken; my children are gone forth of me, and they are not: there is none to stretch forth my tent any more, and to set up my curtains" (10:20). The cords he spoke of, the binding power of God that kept unity among the people, had been obliterated. The flock was scattered and there was such uncleanness among the priesthood, no one dared go near the holy things of God. No priest was worthy to touch the holy curtains.
I want to address those who seek after God: Do you have a closet of prayer? To have a "secret closet" means simply to be shut in with God anywhere, anytime, giving quality time to seeking Him and calling on His name (see Matthew 6:6).
"Prayer closet" also means "prayer habit." Do you have a daily practice of getting alone with God? “Practice” means disciplining yourself to come before God, having a heart that says, "I must get alone with God—I must talk with my Father today!"
Sometimes my secret closet is alone in my car. It is often my study at home or on the streets of New York City. A few weeks ago it was a Florida beach, where I walked for hours, shut in with God.
The kind of prayer I am talking about has to do with intimacy with God—aloneness with Him. Jesus warned against hypocrisy in prayer. He drew a dramatic distinction between those who seek God in the secret closet, and those who pray so they can be seen by others as holy.