Beyond the Public Eye: A Life of Secret Prayer

Category: Full Sermons

Brethren, I’m so blessed. Listen, God has blessed my soul. Starting last night, I know Craig. Brother Craig asked. He said, “Will you be okay to come to the prayer meeting tonight?” I said yes. Yes. My heart has, I have desired this camp since Brother Craig invited me, and I’m so happy. I’ve never been to Grace Community, and I’ve never visited with some of you. I know a few of you, but most of you, I’ve never met. But I’ve had the delight to meet many of you tonight, this evening as you arrived. And, you’ve been a blessing to my soul already. Just seeing the love of Christ in your eyes and seeing your desire to know another brother that you don’t know, but who has the spirit of the same God that you know? And, beloved, that’s what attaches us, and that’s what connects us. It’s profound to go to a different place and to see different brothers. And you look into their eyes, and you can see the Spirit of Christ in them. And you know what I’m talking about when you talk to someone and your spirit bears witness with their spirit, and my soul has been blessed exceedingly to meet each and every one of you. And I pray that I’ve been asking God, “Oh, God, please meet with your people. Please magnify your name, Father. Please bring us into close proximity to you. Father, please show us that conduit of heaven that we might be guided into your presence.” And that’s been my prayer, that we would be ushered into the presence of the high and lofty One which inhabits eternity, whose name is holy. And He said, “I dwell in the high and holy place with him also, that is of a humble and contrite spirit,” and beloved, that’s the spirit that I’ve experienced here among you, and I appreciate so much to come and be able to be humbled enough to come and not just fellowship with you but to speak to you.

And so I pray, God’s help. “How have you go to Matthew chapter six? We’ll be in the center of the Sermon on the Mount. It is, of course, there are no chapter divisions there. And the Lord Jesus comes to this part of the sermon where he’s going to teach us about three things that should be secret things about us, perhaps not so much secret to the Lord. Not at all secret to the Lord, but secret to those that are around us. He starts that chapter by talking about when we do our good works, or do good deeds for someone, or doing alms for someone, he says, ‘Don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing when you do them. Don’t sound the trumpet as the hypocrites do that they may be seen of men.’ And as Jesus is preaching this, you think of the religious leaders of that day, the scribes and the Pharisees. Everything they did, they did to be seen of others, that they may be exalted by others. And Jesus said, ‘No, that’s not the way you’re to do things.’ And the second part of this passage is in Matthew chapter six and verse five, and before we read, let’s lift up our voices. Pray with me, brethren, that God would speak to us. Father, please help us. Oh God, we call upon you for your help. As we open up your holy word and I pray. Heavenly Father, that you would speak to us. Father, I pray, Lord, that you would use me, your unworthy servant. Father, help me to be serviceable to your kingdom. Father, help me, Father, to be able to communicate your will to your blessed people. Father, I ask Father for your grace, Father, for your help, for your enablement. Father, for clarity of thought. Father to open up. Father, your holy word. Lord, I thank you so much for simply who you are to us. Father, I thank you and I ask for your blessing. And I ask it in the highly exalted name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.”

Matthew 6:5, Jesus says, “And when you pray, when you pray, not if you pray, but when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say unto you, they have their reward.” And let me just stop there for a moment. Let me just say that last night I was so blessed to be in the prayer meeting at Grace Community. But I’ll share with you a challenge that I have in my own spiritual life, is praying in public and praying for the ears of my Heavenly Father only, and not for the ears of those that are listening, so to say.

So, beloved, when we do pray in a group like this, we are praying together. If I’m praying, you’re to pray with me to help me in prayer. If you’re praying, I am to pray with you. I am to keep my thoughts focused on what you are praying for and help you in prayer. But I’m just confessing to you my heart. It’s been my experience that I have to struggle to shut out the ears of everyone around, and not to pray for your ears, but to pray for the ears of my Heavenly Father, to pray for God’s ears to seek His presence, and to try and block out and as much as possible, beloved, to pray in secret. Actually, when I’m in public to pray to my Father.

And so the culture of the people at that time, I believe, is that that’s what they knew of prayer from the scribes and Pharisees. That’s what they saw. They saw these orations of these Pharisees, these religious elitists praying to be heard by others. And Jesus said, “If that’s the way you’re praying, you already have your reward. You have your answer. You basically got what you wanted. You got the accolades. You got the compliments of those that were around you. That was such a good prayer, brother.” And so that’s what they received. So Jesus moves on. He says, “But when you pray, he says, ‘Do not use vain repetitions. Do not use many words as the heathen do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things that you have need of before you ask Him,’ and in a moment we’ll read on to that prayer and that model of prayer that the Lord Jesus gave us.

Beloved, prayer is the secret conduit of heaven. Prayer, beloved, and specifically here, secret prayer is an essential for your Christian life. It’s essential for your sanctification. Beloved, it’s essential to be coupled, I believe, with your Bible devotions, your personal private Bible devotions. I believe that when you read the scriptures and when you go into the scriptures and you read God’s Holy Word, it should be coupled with you asking God, “Father, help me to see what this means. Lord, help me to understand what You’re saying to me, Father.” And so I believe it should be coupled with your Bible devotions. But beloved, secret prayer is so important because when you descend, when you go into secret prayer with your heavenly Father, there’s nobody around. It’s just you and your heavenly Father. And so, beloved, that’s where you may say things to your Father that you wouldn’t say in public, that you wouldn’t pray in public, that you wouldn’t pray for the ears of others.

Beloved, it’s where we may be real with our Heavenly Father. I believe there are times when we pray, even in our private time, that we’re not completely honest with God. In our secret prayer life, when we rise and pray to our Heavenly Father, that’s where we should tell Him all the love that we need. I think there is where we should pray without a filter. We need to tell God all, confess our faults, our sins to God, and we need to tell Him everything. I believe God wants to hear those full confessions when we confess our sins before Him. When we pray to our Heavenly Father, I believe He wants to hear our anxious cares. I believe He wants us to cast our care upon Him. I believe He wants us to tear open our bosoms before Him.

You know, we all have good brothers and sisters in Christ, and we share things with our brothers and sisters in Christ, and many times will cast our cares upon our brothers and sisters in Christ, will tell a brother about our anxious cares and our concerns. And what’s troubling to me sometimes in my own life is when I’ll tell a brother or sister about that, but I won’t tell my Lord, when I won’t tell my Father in heaven. Beloved, listen, we are united to God by faith in Jesus Christ. And so if we don’t have a personal and intimate and private and secret prayer devotion time with our Lord regularly every single day of our lives, beloved, we ought to find that place of secret, intimate, and private prayer with our Lord.

“Give ear to my words, oh Lord. The psalmist says, consider my meditation. Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King and my God. For unto thee will I pray. My voice shalt thou hear in the morning. O Lord, in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.” Beloved, I believe the time to rise up and pray to our Lord in secret is in the first parts of the day. I believe our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect example of that. We know that the Scripture teaches us that He would rise up a great while before day, and He would depart into a solitary place, and He would pray unto His heavenly Father. Think about that. Think about the Lord Jesus, the Son of God, and the Son of Man. Think about Him going and praying to His heavenly Father. And if He needed to go and pray unto His Father, if He needed to have that time daily for what was before Him, how much more do we need that time every single day to pray to our Father which is in heaven?

It is essential, beloved, that we find that place of prayer and that we pray to God as our Father. Let me show you something in John chapter 17. It blesses my soul in the Lord Jesus’s high priestly prayer, John chapter 17, verse 20. At this point, the Lord Jesus has transitioned from praying for His apostles to us. Beloved, you can see there in John chapter 17, verse 20, He said, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe on me through their word, that they may be one. As you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be one in us, that the world may believe that you have sent me, and the glory which you gave me, I have given them, that they may be one, just as we are one. And listen to this, I in them, and you in me, that they may be made perfect in one. That the world may know that you have sent me, and have loved them as you have loved me.” Jesus calls His God His Father. He calls God His Father. And in John 20:17, He rose from the grave and He saw Mary there. He told Mary, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to my Father, but go to my brethren, and say to them, I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” That just blessed my soul to consider that we call our God our Father. And that is a term of endearment that God has given to us, having been adopted into the family of God.

Beloved, we have a Heavenly Father. You know, you hear people in the world talk about God, this and God that, and they use God’s name in vain. And they don’t love God. And beloved, it’s not wrong for us to call God our God, but God is our heavenly Father. He is “my Father, which art in heaven,” and that brings us to that place. But before that, turn to Psalm 63. Or if you’re there, you can just listen. Psalm 63. Listen, if you’re in Christ, you are united to God by

faith in Jesus Christ. And that is a union that you are one with Christ. And if you have that union with Christ, beloved, how can it be that you don’t commune with God in secret?

Beloved, if we’re united to God by faith in Christ, then that union should be communicated in our prayer life, in our communication with God, in our communion with Him. Beloved, there ought to be that real union with God, and it ought to be experienced. It ought to be real. It ought to be intimate in our lives. There ought to be communion between you and God that no one else knows about. You ought to have that relationship that is between you and your Father alone. It ought to be a desired place. It ought to be a deliberate place. It ought to be a place that you find often. And listen, this is just me. I can pray driving my vehicle, and I’m all alone. Is that secret prayer? Well, yes, it is, but my secret prayer, and I’m talking for me, my secret prayer needs to be undistracted. I need to be in a place where I have all outward distractions, and I need to be in a place where I don’t have to think about driving. I need to be in a place where I don’t have to think about doing something else. I need to be in a place where I can focus my attention on my Heavenly Father. And beloved, when we do that, that is going to assist and help us listen. You can’t live the Christian life without prayer. Listen, as breathing is necessary for your physical life, prayer is necessary for your spiritual life. Your communion with God, your knowing God, and not simply going to secret prayer to ask God for things.

Yes, we go and we ask God, but beloved, to go to secret prayer is to know God. As Paul said in Ephesians chapter three, he prayed for the Ephesians, saying, “I pray for you and cease not to give thanks for you, praying that you would know the depth and the length and the height and the breadth of the love of Christ, that you would know this love that, as he says, is unknowable.” It’s about knowing the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, and that’s what we need to seek in our secret place with the Lord. It’s a place where we can complain to God, plead with God, cry out to God, and tell God things we would never tell anyone else.

Where we complain to Him and we tell Him, “I don’t understand, Father.” I’m the recipient of one of the most wonderful things that a human father can experience—the salvation of his 34-year-old son. It’s the answer to a secret prayer. Others were praying for him as well, but there were times in my secret prayer life for my son, when he was so antagonistic against God, he hated God, and he took his anger out on me because I raised him in a Christian home. Every time he called me, he would be in a rage against God. There were times, beloved, that I actually prayed prefatory prayers concerning my own son and I told the Lord, “Father, my son does not deserve to be saved. He deserves to be judged.” I got to a place where I stopped believing for a time that God would save my son.

I’m telling you what my secret prayers were. Of course, God has answered what I thought was impossible, and it was in my unbelief. Go to your secret place and tell God what’s on your heart. Tell Him the truth. Tell Him when you don’t believe Him. There are times in our Christian lives where we come to a place where we don’t have eyes to see. Jesus spoke in parables to the Jews and said it was because they don’t have eyes to see or ears to hear. But sometimes, the Lord has shown me, there have been times in my life when I don’t have eyes to see, and I don’t have ears to hear. What was missing, I guess I could say, is I wasn’t pouring out my soul to the Lord. I wasn’t being real with God. I would go to prayer and sometimes we go to prayer and we pray knowing the words, but I don’t want to just pray the words. I want to pray to the person of my Heavenly Father. I want it to be real. I want the felt presence of my God, and that’s what the Lord is still teaching me—to pray to Him, to commune with Him. But that’s a road that every one of us, you as men, need to walk alone. You need to find that place where you commune with your Heavenly Father, yourself.

I was going to take you to Psalm 63. I love the Psalms. I try the best I can to read a Psalm a day. But as we’re in Psalm 63, I think of Psalm 73, “Whom have I in heaven but thee? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee. My flesh and my heart faileth.” That’s where I find myself, where my flesh and my heart is failing. And that’s where I must find my God to be the strength of my heart and my portion. That’s where God began to work. When I cast those cares upon Him, I knew when that happened. It was like Hannah’s prayer in 1 Samuel when she was in bitterness of soul, praying in the temple, moving her lips in secret prayer, and Eli thought she was drunk. She said, “No, I’m in bitterness of soul and I poured out my soul to the Lord.” That’s secret prayer. It’s pouring out your soul.

For me, it took a little work because, in my young life, I was full of pride. I grew up an arrogant man, full of pride. Even now, I find myself trying to shed that wicked pride so that I can be honest with God and humble myself before Him and actually tell God the truth. Tell God the truth in your prayers. Tell Him what’s really going through your mind. My brother at home called it praying without a filter. Tell God all that’s in your heart. Pour out your soul to Him. That’s what Hannah did. And when Hannah finished praying, her countenance was no more sad. She cast that care upon the Lord. “Cast thy burden upon the Lord; He shall sustain thee,” Psalm 55 says. But then in Psalm 63, “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee. My soul thirsteth for thee, my flesh longeth for thee in a dry and thirsty land, where no

water is.” So I have looked for you in the sanctuary to see your power and glory, because your loving kindness is better than life.

That’s what God began to show me in my prayer. I want to commune with You. I want to know Your loving kindness more. I want to know more of Your love, more of the love of Christ, more of Your compassion, Father. I want to think right. That’s another thing the Lord taught me because I would find myself going out into the world and being amongst sinners and thinking wrong thoughts, looking at people and judging them by what I see. I said, “Father, I’m tired of thinking wrong. I’m tired of thinking the way I shouldn’t think. I want my mind to be renovated. I want to be renewed in the spirit of my mind.” I’ve had wicked thoughts, Father, wicked, terrible thoughts. So please help me.

Even back to concerning my son, when he called me on the phone, the Lord saved him and his wife, both of them. In December, he called me, and in January, he told me how the Lord had brought him to the end of himself. He opened to Proverbs chapter one, a Bible I gave him a long time ago. He read Proverbs 1, “Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you.” But he had refused, shunned God’s extended hand. And he said that when he read that passage, he realized God wasn’t laughing at him, and he trusted God. I struggled for the next day or so to believe that. And I had to go to my place of prayer with my Lord and ask God, “Is it real, Father? Have You really saved my son?”

We flew out to California, and I’m confident that God has saved my son and his wife from their sins, from his rebellion against God. And I can tell you tonight that I’m the recipient of God’s answer to my prayer. The fulfillment of that answer to prayer just brings to mind the time of struggling in my secret place. Pray. Pour out your soul to the Lord. For me, it took a little time to actually pour out your soul. Some folks are really private, and they don’t let you in. Sometimes I think we’re like that with the Lord. He knows already. Your Heavenly Father knows what things you have need of before you ask Him. So tell Him all. Tell Him everything. Tell Him what’s on your heart. Tell Him what’s on your mind. Confess your unbelief to Him. Wrestle with God. Remember Jacob in Genesis 32? He prevailed with God. “As a prince, you have power with God and have prevailed.” Refuse to give up in prayer. Don’t faint. Be like the widow who went to the unjust judge. Keep going to your Lord, calling out to your Father in heaven. Pray to Him. Plead with God, complain to God, confess your sins to God, thank God.

Beloved, go to your Heavenly Father and immerse yourself in His goodness, His compassion, His love, His mercy, His kindness. Middle Eastern religions teach you to meditate by emptying your heart of everything, but not us. We fill our hearts with our God. When you pray, that should be our primary prayer, the times when no one else sees us except our Heavenly Father, the prayer that no one else knows about but our God and our Heavenly Father. That should be the principal time of our prayer. I think it’s so very important that it be the first part of the day. The example of the Lord Jesus speaks volumes. He rose up a great while before day and went out into a solitary place and prayed. He’s our example. I think the morning time is the best time. Now, I’m not saying that’s the only time, but I just think it’s the best time. It’s a beginning every day. Jesus prayed every day, asking His Heavenly Father to prepare Him for what was before Him. I would have loved to have heard those prayers.

I’ll just close by reading Matthew chapter 6. This passage has become alive to me. I was raised Roman Catholic, and we used to recite the Lord’s Prayer by rote. It meant absolutely nothing, but it is one of the sweetest passages in all of the Word of God. It’s the sermon on the Mount in my mind. It’s the centerpiece of the Word of God. “After this manner therefore pray ye,” in Luke, He says, “When you pray, pray like this: Our Father.” Those words melt my heart. He is my Father. I’m adopted into the family of God. God is my Heavenly Father. I am His child. If you’re in Christ, you’re His son, and so He is your Heavenly Father. I had an earthly father, but He is my Heavenly

Father, and I am to cry to Him. God’s given me the Spirit in my heart, the Holy Spirit, whereby I cry, “Abba, Father.” That needs to be us, to cry out to our Heavenly Father, “which art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” God’s name is His person. There is no greater name than our Father in heaven and our Lord Jesus Christ. “Thy kingdom come.” Father, may Your kingdom be enlarged in my own heart. Father, expand the borders of Your kingdom. “Thy will be done.” Father, not my will but Yours be done. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.” If everything goes sideways today, it was Thy will, not mine. Help me to submit myself to Your will for this day. “Give us this day our daily bread.” I need God for every moment of the day. I need His grace. I need Him to help me before I engage my tongue. When Jesus spoke, it was always perfect. I’m far from that. I need my Heavenly Father to help me as I go into each day that not my will but His will be done. “Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” Make sure I’m not harboring a grudge against any of my brothers and sisters. “Lead us not into temptation,” help me, Heavenly Father, not to fall into sin. “Deliver us from evil.” For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever. Amen. If you don’t forgive those that have sinned against you, neither will your Heavenly Father forgive you for your trespasses.

Every sin is against God. For us to harbor sins and hold on to our sins is worse than sinners in their sins because we should know better. “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.” I pray that God would help each one of you to find your secret place daily, to go to your Heavenly Father, to pray to Him in secret, not just to ask Him for things but to plead with God, to be completely honest with God, to be true and sincere with God, and to tell Him what’s in our hearts. Like the prayer for my son, I’m ashamed that there were times when I didn’t believe my own prayers, and yet God answered anyway. After God saved my son, I was in Psalm 116, “I love the Lord, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications.” Prayer is the life of the Christian. It connects us to our Heavenly Father. Don’t deprive yourself of probably the greatest privilege you have, access to the throne of grace of your Heavenly Father. Don’t neglect or forfeit that privilege. It took time and discipline to find my place there, but now it’s a place of hunger and desire. I must have that time of prayer. If I don’t have it, I’m a mess spiritually. Find your secret place. When you find that place, pray to your Heavenly Father in secret, and your Father who sees in secret shall reward you openly. Amen. Let’s pray.

Father, thank you. O God, I pray that you would take the words of your unworthy servant and help us all as we come to you, as we call upon you, the high and lofty One who inhabits eternity. As we come to your throne of grace, O God, you tell us in the book of Hebrews we have a high priest who can be touched with the feeling of our infirmities. You can sympathize with us because you, Lord Jesus, were tempted as we are, tried as we are, yet without sin. Therefore, let us come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Father, I confess to you now that there is never a time when I am not in need. O God, would you please help us to live each moment of our lives in complete dependence upon you? O God, in your mercy and grace. And I want to praise you, Father. And I thank you, Father, for this gathering. I thank you for these precious brothers, and I pray, Father, your richest blessing and Father, that you would reveal yourself to each one, Father, in your tender compassion and loving kindness. And I ask it in Jesus’ name. Amen.