In Secret

2nd post in series on The Lord’s Prayer

“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)

What’s it like in the secret, hidden places that no one sees, no one knows?  What are your secret thoughts; your hidden hurts, your silent cries?  Who knows those things about you?  Who hears the cries of your heart?   Who do you let into those secret places?

Today has been one of those days that for whatever reason, my heart has been heavy.  I haven’t even fully known why.  Yet, it’s been a day that I have felt the Father drawing me to a quiet place with Him.  Assuring me that His Presence is found in secret.  He sees me in the secret place.  I can cry my eyes out.  I can lay all the heaviness at His feet and know that He sees the deepest places of my heart, the places that I don’t even fully understand.  He rewards me with His presence.  He pours out His love.

In this passage of scripture, as Jesus is instructing the disciples how to pray, he is demonstrating an intimate relationship with the Father.  He is saying, “it’s not about religion, it’s about relationship.”  Intimacy is not developed in large crowds, but in the secret place, behind closed doors.  God’s Presence is found in secret, He sees what is in secret, and He rewards those who meet Him in that place.

If we truly desire to experience the presence of God, we must let Him into the secret places of our hearts.   He wants us open to Him so that He can speak truth to our innermost places.  “Behold, you delight in truth in the inward being, and you teach me wisdom in the secret heart” (Psalm 51:6).   The Lord sees you in secret.  He knows your hurts, your struggles, and your hidden sins.  He knows your loneliness and despair.  He wants you to trust Him with all of it.  He desires your fellowship.  “You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your presence” (Psalm 90:8).   His Presence brings light to our darkness.  He sets our sins before him and shines his light on them.  Do you need His light to shine into some dark and heavy places in your heart?

In His Presence, we find our reward.  “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  How will the Father who sees in secret reward us?   Jesus told the disciples in Luke 8:10, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God.”  What a privilege to be one of the ones that God trusts with His secrets!  God rewards those who seek after intimacy with Him by revealing the secrets of His kingdom.   Those whose desire is for the Lord, meet him in the secret place and trust Him with their secrets and intimacy with Him grows.  He then reveals His secrets to us; those whom He is intimately acquainted with; to those who love Him and obey Him.  “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law” (Deuteronomy 29:29).

“But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory. None of the rulers of this age understood this, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love him”—

 these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God. For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him? So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual.

 The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.”  (1 Corinthians 2:7-16)

Wow!  When we enter into an intimate relationship with God through Jesus Christ, He gives us His very Spirit.  He gives us the mind of Christ.  Through His Spirit, He reveals truth and gives understanding to things that we would never be able to comprehend without His Spirit.   He imparts and trusts us with His secret and hidden wisdom.  Those things He only reveals to those who meet Him in the secret place. “The one true sign of discipleship is intimate oneness with Him- a knowledge of Jesus that nothing can shake.”1

“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.”

 


1 Oswald Chambers,  My Utmost for His Highest, updated edition (Discovery House Publishers, 1992).

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Don’t be like the hypocrites!

1st in series on The Lord’s Prayer

After watching Jesus pray, one of the disciples asked him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1).  Why did he ask this question?  Was he unsure how to pray?  Was there something about the way Jesus prayed that made him question his own idea of prayer?  Did he see Jesus tap into a realm of prayer that superseded the religious prayers they had been taught?  Was it something about the way Jesus communicated with the Father?  What was different about Jesus’ prayer?

Jesus responded to the disciple’s question by giving them a simple model for prayer.

5“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. 6But 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. 7“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.”  (Matthew 6:5-8)

In other words, keep it simple.  “Don’t be like the hypocrites!  Don’t pray to be noticed by others.  You’re not praying to be heard by man.  You are praying to be heard by the Father.”  Prayer is not about eloquent words or even who hears you.  Prayer is about intimacy with God and it’s not developed in front of large crowds.  It’s not developed on Sunday mornings in church.

Intimacy with God is developed when you “go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret” (Matthew 6:6).  Our motive in prayer is developing intimacy with Jesus in the secret places of our hearts.  God wants a close, familiar, loving and personal relationship with each of us.  He’s not interested in our carefully crafted “church prayers.”  He wants our affection!  He wants our love!  He wants us to KNOW Him personally and trust Him with the deepest places in our hearts.  He desires that our prayers flow from those deepest places straight to Him; flowing out of our love and affection for Him.

In the secret place, “ Pray then like this:
 “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 10 Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.
11 Give us this day our daily bread, 12and forgive us our debts,
as we also have forgiven our debtors.
13And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 14 For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, 15 but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:9-15)

I find it ironic that the Lord’s Prayer has turned into the very thing that Jesus said its not to be.  Most of us know the words of this prayer by memory because we have said it many times as a rote congregational prayer. This prayer is so rich and I fear we have ceased to hear what Jesus is truly telling us because we have grown cold to its’ words.  What do the words of this prayer actually mean?  What was Jesus teaching us about prayer?  I’m going to take this prayer and break it up over a series of blog posts.   We will take what has grown to be a religious “church” prayer in our culture and see it for the intimate prayer it was intended to be.


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Prayer…what’s the point?

WHAT IF in all of our carefully thought out lists of requests and our own ideas of prayer, we are completely missing the point?  What if we are completely missing God when we pray?

Many times when we pray, we come to God with our “list” of requests.  When we think our requests are all there is to prayer, we are missing Him in the process.  We completely miss the power of prayer when we view prayer in this way.  “The point of prayer is not to get answers from God, but to have perfect and complete oneness with Him.”1  Prayer is not so much about our requests as it is about our relationship!  The purpose of prayer is to draw us near to the heart of God, not to manipulate God to our purposes.  It is about total and complete surrender to His purposes; being willing to lay ours down.

Even when our prayers seem to go “unanswered” by our definition, God is hearing our prayers and moving in our lives.  God often uses our prayers that come from deep places of pain and despair to draw us to Him.   He draws us to a place of deeper intimacy with Him, knowing Him.  He may not “fix” every circumstance that we petition, but if He allows the circumstance, He will use it to change us.  It’s about surrendering to His purposes for our lives.  Prayer is the vehicle that allows us to draw near to the heart of God, experiencing Him in the deepest places.   “When you seem to have no answer, there is always a reason- God uses these times to give you deep personal instruction, and it is not for anyone else but you.”2

Simply put, prayer is about relationship.  Prayer is about intimacy.  Prayer is the amazing tool we have been given to draw near to the heart of our Father, the One who loves us and cares for us.   He knows our needs before we even ask him  (Matthew 6:8).

 

 


1 Oswald Chambers,  My Utmost for His Highest, updated edition (Discovery House Publishers, 1992).

2 Oswald Chambers,  My Utmost for His Highest, updated edition (Discovery House Publishers, 1992).

 

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To be Blessed!

What does it mean to be blessed?  Am I blessed if I’m healthy, wealthy and all is good in my circumstances?  That’s what we’d like to think sometimes, yet Jesus tells us something quite different.  This morning I cracked open my Bible and I dug into God’s Word.  In Matthew 5 (The Sermon on the Mount), Jesus tells me when I am blessed.  These are words that I have read so many times and this morning they hit me with such richness and such power!  I have been sitting in the first 6 verses, chewing away….

1Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him.

The Beatitudes

 2And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”

 I shared before about the season of drought & emptiness that I have been experiencing.  God has been so completely faithful.  I continue to be amazed at His wonder and His complete and total faithfulness to His children no matter what!  As I have allowed the process instead of fighting it, I have experienced God in those deep places in my heart that I have so longed for.  I want to share several things that spoke to me this morning as I studied that seem to reiterate the truths that God continues to teach me.  I obviously need them over & over and He is faithful to deliver!  “The Sermon on the Mount is not a set of rules and regulations, it is picture of the life we will live when the Holy Spirit is having His unhindered way with us.”  O. Chambers.   My prayer has been one of surrender and abandon to the Lord.  Laying everything down, telling Him to have His way with me.  I am empty & I need Him!  Surrender is a place of amazing freedom!  Surrender is the place of blessing!

There were crowds of people that followed Jesus to hear what he would say.  His teaching and ministry impressed them, but they were not committed to Him.  Jesus went away from the crowds and his disciples came to him.  Disciples are learners.  They are those who truly long to know Jesus, not just those who are impressed with his words.  They sought after Jesus.  They followed him.  They pressed in and they went to Him.  They listened to what He had to say.  Their hearts were open to him and Jesus taught them.  They were hungry and He fed them.

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”  The poor in spirit are simply those who recognize they are in need of God’s help.  We know we are nothing and can do nothing without him.  The Message says, “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.”  In other words, when I am completely empty and at the end of myself, there is more room for God to rule in my life!  I am blessed when I am empty!

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”   My sin leads me to a place of depletion, desolation and loss.  It leads me to a place of spiritual and emotional bankruptcy; I mourn what my sin has caused. “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.”  (The Message)  I long for God’s forgiveness and healing to touch my heart and life.  I long for HIM!  “For godly grief produces a repentance that leads to salvation without regret…” (2 Corinthians 7:10a)  My grief over my sin leads me to repentance.  My repentance leads me back to God and He embraces me there with His Comfort.  I am blessed when I mourn!

“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.”  The meek are those that are gentle, that “do not assert themselves over others in order to further their own agendas in their own strength, but who will nonetheless inherit the earth because they trust in God to direct the outcome of events.”1  The Message says it this way,  “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.”  When I am not trying to further MY own agenda in God’s name, but I trust God with the outcome of my life, I find peace in His presence and His provision for my life.  “The meek shall inherit the land and delight themselves in abundant peace.” (Psalm 37:11)  I am blessed when I am meek!

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”  When I stop chasing the cravings of my flesh and looking for the things of this world to satisfy me and seek after the One who truly can satisfy me, I will be filled up!  What is it to hunger & thirst for righteousness?  It is for my soul to hunger, to desire a right relationship with God.  I want my life to be in total agreement with God’s standards for my life.  I recognize that God is the ultimate source of real righteousness, so I long for his righteous character to be evident in my life.  Then, in relationship with Him, I find my deepest satisfaction.  He fills every desire of my longing heart. “You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.”  (The Message).  I am blessed when I hunger and thirst for a right relationship with God!

We seek fulfillment in so many ways in our human flesh, yet God’s Word is so clear that we only truly find fulfillment, satisfaction, deep joy and happiness when we seek Him above all things!  In Him we are truly Blessed!  He is faithful beyond measure!  His Word never fails!


1  English Standard Version Study Bible

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Dried up…depleted…EMPTY!

Dry Desert

Yesterday, I prayed a prayer that I always pray only this time as I wrote it; it hit me in a new way.  I prayed “Lord, empty me of me and fill me with the power of Your Spirit.”  That is my desire.  I long to be FILLED up with the power of God in my life.  I want to walk in HIS wisdom, revelation, insight and discernment.  I want to be FILLED UP to overflowing!  Springs of living water!  I want to be so FULL of Him that it SPLASHES out to those around me!

 Although that has been my constant prayer, for months, I have found myself in a severe drought.  Completely empty, dried up, depleted.  I have been crying out to God to meet me in this desert place.   I have sat in Isaiah 40 and it has been my heart’s cry.

 “A voice of one calling: 
“In the wilderness prepare the way for the LORD[a]; 
make straight in the desert 
   a highway for our God.[b]4 Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; 
the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. 
5 And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”  (Isaiah 40:3-5)

I have been begging God to prepare the way in my wilderness, make straight in my desert a highway for Him to move in my life!  Remove every obstacle that is blocking me from Him.  I want His glory to be revealed in my life!  I want HIM more than anything else, yet I have felt so dry, so empty, and so alone.  I am becoming so aware of the battles I face, the sin and unbelief in my own life that has blocked me from moving forward.  I have been in a place of being completely broken & poured out before God…begging Him to meet me.

Yesterday, as I prayed empty me…& fill me with YOU, I realized I always pray that prayer focusing on the FILLING of Him, not realizing how painful it is to be emptied of ME.  In His still, sweet voice He showed me that He has been answering my fervent prayer.  He has been emptying me of ME so that He can fill me up with HIM!  So often I pray that prayer not fully aware of how very much there is in me that needs to GO!  When I pray for God to empty me, do I really mean it?  Am I willing to go through the painful process of being emptied so that I can be filled up with His Power, His Spirit?

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the LORD Almighty.” (Isaiah 6:5)

Yes, LORD!  Empty me of me and fill me up with the power of your SPIRIT!  Let Your Glory be displayed in my broken and empty life!  Let it FLOW!

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