“…when you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. Your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:5
The secret place of prayer is the blessing, grace, and reward of every child of God. It is the abode where nourishment, strength, and rest are downloaded into our soul. Though, if you are like me, you might have a hard time entering the secret place. Many times I am distracted, hurried, tired, or apathetic as I approach what I know in my heart will be the delight of my day. I simply cannot focus on how to begin my time with the Lord because there seems to be so much distance between me and Him. One particular morning when I was in prayer the Lord gave me some simple things to remember as I spend time with Him in the secret place:
- Just come to God and say, “Here I am.” Present yourself to Him as an offering and remember, its His grace that brings us to Him in the first place. Be reminded that Jesus has given you His life and because of giving Him your life, you are His bond servant. Because of this He sees you as one with Him. It is this “oneness” that allows you to dwell in the Presence of God.
- Gaze upon Jesus. Gaze means to consider Jesus. “Consider” is from the root of the Latin word “star.” This is how we would contemplate the stars. Gazing at the stars carries the idea of a quiet, patient, persevering, concentrated gaze with which an astronomer seeks to discover all that can possibly be known of the stars that he studies.1 You will never be disappointed in gazing upon Jesus. There is always so much more of Him to behold. The more you gaze, the more praise and thankfulness will fill your heart.
- Repent of sin. We need a lot of help from the Holy Spirit with this one, for two reasons. First, some sins are easy for us to see but we may still struggle with confessing them because thinking about them can bring up a lot of guilt and shame. Sometimes we don’t want to confess them because we still enjoy them and are not ready to let them go. An additional motive as to why we don’t want to turn from sin is because we believe it is better that they stay hidden and we believe we can manage them on our own. When we try to manage sin on our own it has devastating consequences. Any sin that we try to keep, for whatever reason, will turn into an incubator that will breed more sins of various kinds. We were not made to bear sin. Secondly, another reason we need help is we may not be aware of any sins in our life because they are not overt. But, we do know from God’s word that we do have sin in us. When we confess our “known” sins to God, He forgives us of our “known” and “unknown” sin and cleanses us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9) The closer we are to God the more aware we will become of our unknown sins. This is actually a blessing because as we become aware of covert sins, such as pride and idolatry, we will see God deliver us from these sins and experience a greater need and appreciation for Jesus. The awareness, confession, and forgiveness of sin brings about humility. Humility opens up power in the secret place.
- Share hearts. First share your heart with God by telling Him all that is on your heart. Take the time to explain what occupies your mind. It may be immediate needs, dreams, disappointments, or fears. It may also be that you are empty. You may not know what you need, want, or even how you feel. Whatever you are thinking, He wants you to communicate with Him. Next, ask Him what is on His heart. This part is accompanied by making a habit of reading God’s word daily so you will be able to discern His voice. Be prepared to look for Him and listen to Him throughout the day. He will reveal Himself to you. It may be during your time with Him in prayer, but it may also be at an unexpected time. He wants to know you and He wants to be known by you. It is a blessing to have a journal to write these things down. I can promise you that when this sharing of hearts becomes a habit, you won’t have a journal big enough to record it all. He is alive and active!
- Ask God to order your day. We all have some sort of daily agenda that we go by. It may be a calendar on our phone or a daily planner. Our agenda may also be formed by the many things swirling in our head that we “need to do.” Each day we must be willing to lay it all at our Father’s feet. This does not mean that we do not work or accomplish the things that we are responsible for that day. What this suggests is that we simply acknowledge that the day belongs to God and we give Him permission to arrange things throughout the day that will honor and glorify Him. On the surface, these holy adjustments may look like distractions or problems that we didn’t plan for. Our schedule may also have surprise cancelations or added appointments, but instead of complaining that our plans have changed, we can remember that we have given God our day and we can realize that it is Him at work. We will also begin to see that God is the Master of time management. He does not put more on our agenda than we can handle. I had a wise professor once say that we have all the time in the world to do God’s will, but we do not have all the time in the world to do what we think we have to do. God is a God of order and not a god of chaos. When God orders our day, we can rest in Him and trust Him for the work we have to do each day.
- Press into remembering that He is simple enough for us. God meets us right where we are. He does not exhaust us and His ways are not burdensome. In other words, He does not try to teach us calculus if we are learning pre-algebra. When we earnestly seek Him and want to follow Him then He will guide us through the day. When things get complicated we just need to pause and remember that He will help us in a simple way to navigate through what seems to be the complicated or impossible way- one step at a time. Approach each day like a child who has a Good Father.
- Trust that He can work through divine intervention. God accomplishes His work through ordinary means and through divine intervention. When you are a bond servant of Jesus Christ then you will, on a regular basis, not understand how His work will get accomplished. It is good to remember that He has already worked out the works that he planned for you to do. His promise is that these works will be accomplished! It may be simple or it may be extraordinary. But it will get done. Just keep working and trust that He will do it!
- Rest in Him. Go forward in faith. Resting in God means to be free from worry and striving. It is knowing that God is in control and we are not. Jesus finished all the work on the cross to make us perfect and complete in Him. He is working it out in us, but it will be worked out in accordance to what we know of God, which is our faith. If we need more faith, we can pray, “Increase my faith” like the apostles did in Luke 17:5 and know that God will graciously give us the faith needed to go forward today and accomplish His work.
Run to the secret place and be excited each day to see how God will provide. He will reward you!!
1 Andrew Murray, Holiest of All: A Commentary on the Book of Hebrews, (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 1996), 115-116.