THE SECRET PLACE
Bible Reading:Matthew 6:1-8
[a] How good are you at listening?
[b] Sometimes my wife will say something to me, and I will grunt in return, and a few moments later, I will ask her - "What was it you said?" and often, by the time I'm ready to listen, she's forgotten what she was going to tell me!!
[c] Or sometimes, I'm straining to hear the news on the television, while everyone else is speaking, until they notice something of interest in the news, and ask me what it is about! Often, I say, "You were all talking, and I couldn't hear it!"
[d] Listening to one another, is very important, but what we all fail in too often, is to listen to the Lord, as He tries to speak to us!
[e] We've been having some interesting discussion in our Bible Study, in relation to how we approach God in prayer, and have found it very challenging and heart-searching stuff!
[f] We all are inclined to think that our prayer lives will take care of themselves, without any help from us - while nothing could be further from the truth!
[a] In Matthew 6, we find Jesus giving some very direct instruction on what our prayer lives should be like!
[b] WE sometimes fail to realise, that the whole of our Christian expereince lives or dies on the condition of our prayer relationship with our Lord.
[c] We sometimes seem to think it a ONE-WAY communication - WE DO THE TALKING, AND GOD DOES THE LISTENING!!
Or as someone said recently, "We present God with our shopping list!" and we think that's what prayer is all about.
[d] What do you think of a friend who meets you in the street, and is so full of themselves, and what they want to say, they've no interest in listening to you?? YET THAT IS WHAT SO MANY OF US DO IN PRAYER!!
[e] Throughout Scripture, we find a God Who wants to speak to us!!
Right from THE GARDEN OF EDEN, we find God speaking to Adam, to Abraham, to Jacob, to Moses, to the prophets, to the early Church.
[f] It is inconceivable to think that God no longer wants to communicate directly with us!!
[g] When we were at Roots, Lyndsay had her mobile phone with her, so when we wanted to contact the group of them, we just pressed a few buttons, and there was instant communication, whether they were travelling in from Pontins in the car or whatever.
[i] Well, as the little girl said about the chorus she thought she learned in Sunday School, "God is still on the PHONE!"
MAYBE SHE WAS REALISING A TRUTH THAT MANY OF US HAVE FORGOTTEN!!
[a] I was reading about a man standing in a phone booth, making a call, and saying frustratedly, "I CAN'T HEAR! I CAN'T HEAR!"
The other man eventually said rather sharply, "IF YOU SHUT THE DOOR, YOU'LL HEAR!" He could hear, not only the man's voice, but all the hustle and bustle and the traffic!
[b] "Why didn't he shut the door?" we would say.
[c] Yet we seem to try and communicate with God, in the midst of all the distractions of life, failing to see what Jesus suggests, in finding that secret quiet place, to get alone with God.
[d] Often Jesus would find a quiet secluded place, to go on His Own and pray! (Matthew 14:23, Mark 6:46 - A MOUNTAIN - ALONE; Luke 6:12 - A MOUNTAIN - ALL NIGHT IN PRAYER; Luke 9:28 - A MOUNTAIN - TRANSFIGURATION)
[e] It has been said, that God is whispering all the time to us, but most of the time, the distractions of the world, make it impossible for us to hear His voice!
[f] How often have we heard people say "But I don't know what God wants me to do!"
[g] At a highland roadside, there was a scene of total confusion, as a shepherd tried to round up his flock of sheep. The frightened sheep were rushing off in all directions, as impatient motorists tooted their horns. A little terrier was making things worse, by barking all the time.
The sheep dog tried again and again to interpret his master's instructions, but the distractions made it impossible.
Finally, in desperation, the dog ran up the mountain-side, far away from the confusion below.
With his eye and ear open only to the shepherd's commands, all became changed. Down he rushed, now knowing exactly what to do, and in a few moments, had herded the sheep up the road. All became order and quietness again. [The Christians Daily Challenge - July 19th]
[h] If we are to follow the directions of the Great Shepherd, we must also have that withdrawal from all distraction.
[i] This is very dangerous to the devil's kingdom, so he will not want us to come to that place, and will do everything possible to stop us!!
BUT LET US REMEMBER THAT JESUS TEACHES IT AS ABSOLUTELY ESSENTIAL!!
[a] In Matthew 6:6, Jesus says, "When you pray, go into your own room, shut your door and pray to your Father privately. Your Father Who sees all private things will reward you."
[b] If I were to ask you to be honest before the Lord just now, and quantify the time that you have spent in that kind of prayer this past week - how long would it be I wonder??
[c] The thing about that kind of prayer, is that it is a secret and personal thing before the Lord, so we cannot judge our endeavour by that of anyone else!!
[d] I am always suspicious of the person whose whole relationship with God, seems to permanently be an 'up front' experience open for all to see - 'SPIRITUAL LIFE IN A DISPLAY CASE'.
[e] Whilst there is a sense in which we can pray anywhere, and indeed should be in continuous prayer-touch with the Lord, we must remember that there must be also that 'coming aside' in a very personal way with the Lord!
[f] Jesus said, "SHUT THE DOOR!"
Sometimes, there seems to be a epidemic in our house, of doors being left open!
[g] The shutting of the door, signifies shutting us in with the Lord, in a personal communion, and also signifies the shutting out of the world!
[a] Sometimes, Christians seem to think that there's something wrong with them if they're not continuously part of the clamour of the world!
[b] But by it's very nature, Christianity is a separatist teaching! It can be no other, because it teaches 'holiness unto the Lord', and that we must not touch that which is spotted by the flesh
"Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you."
(2 Corinthians 6:17.)
[c] The Christian, and the Children of the world, have different objectives, different pleasures, different allegiances, different interests.
[d] AS far as the Christian's relationship with the world is concerned, there is a degree of loneliness involved!
But someone has said, "One must get alone, to find out that he never is alone! The more alone we are as far as men are concerned the least alone we are as far as so far as God is concerned."
[e] IT IS IN THE QUIETNESS THAT WE CAN FIND GOD!
[f] There was a song a few years ago, that spoke about the 'sound of silence'.
It is a scientific fact, that if we are in silence for a long time, that our ears become much more sensitive, and we hear the slightest sound.
[g] I remember as a child, I and a friend would play a game, if we had the house to ourselves, and would sit very quiet, and just listen.
It wasn't long, until we were hearing creaks, and all sorts of odd sounds, and started wondering if the house was haunted!!
[a] I think we've got to be honest before the Lord, about whether we actually set aside time in the busy schedule of our lives, for a quiet secret time before the Lord.
[b] The kind of Christian we are, our revelation of the Lord, and how much He can use us, is all dependent on that secret, quiet relationship with the Lord!
[c] Maybe we feel it is time for a fresh commitment and undertaking before the Lord, to revitalize our whole Christian experience, with a renewed emphasis on prayer!
52 IN HAPPINESS & HARMONY
65 IN HAPPINESS & HARMONY (prayer chorus)
4 IN HAPPINESS & HARMONY
591 IN THE SECRET OF THY PRESENCE (449)