The Secret Place
Ever want to get away? To escape the clamor of, not only, the world, but your own roiling thoughts? I need a place where quiet overtakes my heart, where peace is permitted to invade and where I can be still enough to hear that Still Small Voice that is so willing to speak, but so easily drowned out. I don’t need an empty mind ready to be filled with just anything; I need a mind filled with those thoughts that are higher than mine. And this is the place often referred to in Scripture as the “Secret Place.”
Jesus’ teaching of His disciples to pray in Matthew 6:6 is profoundly instructive for developing the habit of the Secret Place. He says, "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." In this we can see three instructions and a helpful reminder to our flesh.
The first instruction is that we need to find a place to be alone. Even in the busiest of places, we can find a place to be alone. Why? Because the secret place we are called to enter is not a physical location. Although it will be easier for our minds to focus in a place where we are entirely alone (particularly in the beginning), we need to get alone with God in our spirits in order to commune with Him. Finding that quiet place in your spirit is crucial to having an intimate time with the Lord.
Sometimes it can be difficult to even find that spiritual Secret Place. Even our language implies it is a physical place. It would make it so much easier if it were! It is a spiritual place, a place of quiet and peace where you have a knowing in your spirit that you are aware of the attention of God and He has your full attention. Although it gets easier with practice to "find" this place, initially it can be difficult.
The Lord knows our flesh and He knows the difficulties we have in this area, so his second instruction follows. After He instructs us that we must enter the Secret Place, he reminds us that we must shut the door. This involves closing out any distraction our flesh or the enemy brings to our minds. We must close the door to everything to maintain this exclusive time with the Lord. We must even shut out the requests we wish to lay before the Lord. When you are having intimate time with your spouse, you do not wish to hear a to-do list. Your goal is simply to enjoy your time together without worrying about the “outside world.” The same is true in our time with the Lord. There will be a time for presenting our requests to Him, but when we are endeavoring to speak to and hear Him on an intimate level, we need to shut everything else out.
Thirdly, we pray. Jesus has told us to go into our Secret Place, to close the door and now we are to pray. We speak to the Father and allow Him to speak to us. We tell Him of our love for Him and He communicates His love to us. We are not in charge of the conversation, He is. There may be times when He speaks to us about things that need to change in us or He directs us with practical wisdom. Ask Him questions and listen for the Holy Spirit to answer. It is an opportunity to grow deeper in our relationship by listening and obeying and just soaking in His glorious Presence.
I find it vital to keep my journal handy. When the Lord begins to speak, you will want to make note of what He is saying to you. Primarily I do this out of reverence to Him. Like most people, I struggle with remembering in detail the things I have heard and when the most important Person of all is speaking, I want to remember every syllable! I grab for my journal and a pencil and sometimes write a phrase, a sentence, or a full-fledged download! How can we grow if we are not obedient to the word of the Lord and how can we be obedient if we do not retain all of what we have heard? I know that I have heard things that so touched my heart that I felt sure I would remember them later, only to find that I can only remember the gist of them at best. I honor the word of the Lord when I take the trouble to write it down.
Also by writing things down, I can test them. If I go back over what I have written and it doesn't line up with the Word of God in the Bible, I need to throw it out. We are instructed to test our own words and the words of others (1 Thes 5:19-21; 1 John 4:1-3). Writing things down and being willing to submit it to the written Word's scrutiny is another way to honor the word of the Lord.
After these three instructions on how to pray, Jesus offers us a practical reminder: The Father is unseen. This is an excellent clue for our flesh. There may be times of goose bumps and rapturous joy, but we cannot rely on those fleshly clues for detecting the Presence of God. Our Father is omnipresent, He is everywhere at all times. Often we must exercise our faith in His Presence even when we do not feel it in our physical bodies. The more mature in the Lord you become, the more you may find this a reality, for more is expected of the mature. In moments like these, simply begin thanking the Lord for His Presence in faith and allow peace to begin to fill your heart.
Bear in mind, that all of this instruction in prayer (and even the Lord's Prayer found in Matthew 6:9-13) are all founded in the context of relationship. Notice how Jesus repeatedly emphasizes that we are to pray to our Father. All prayer must come from a foundation of intimate relationship. It is in knowing your place as a child of God that the magnitude of the place of belonging will come alive to you. It is from the vantage point of being His that you develop unshakable faith and experience that intimate relationship your heart longs for. It is here that you finally get a taste of the depths of longing the Father has for you, His child.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” Psalm 91:1 KJV