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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 28 October 2013

Resolve to engage in secret prayer (Matt. 6:5-7)

There is no value in knowing we should engage in secret prayer but do not do so. The fact of the matter is that there are no valid excuses for not engaging in such occasions of prayer. We cannot say that we cannot find the place (we can pray anywhere that is suitable), we cannot say that we cannot find the time (if it comes to a choice between the news on TV or a time of prayer, switch off the TV), we cannot say that we have not the right words (God can interpret our groans, even our wrongly worded desires).

We should resolve to engage in secret prayer because we will know whether or not our prayers have been answered. When God answers a prayer offered in church, the devil can suggest that it was answered because somebody else prayed for it. But when God answers a request that we have brought before him in the secret place, then we know that we have been heard, and that answer becomes an encouragement to pray for other matters. In this regard, it is important to keep a note of our prayer requests and their answers (a private record not shown to others). General prayers get vague answers, specific prayers receive definite answers.

Further, we should resolve to engage often in secret prayer because it is the best means of getting to know God. The way we get to know one another is by speaking to one another; the way we get to know God as our Father is by spending time with him. In the secret place, God will reveal to us his love and care for us, and we will discover an increased assurance in our hearts (‘He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, “ He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in him I will trust’ [Ps. 91:1-2]).

Another reason for engaging in secret prayer is that it is an effective aspect of the process of sanctification. It is there that we obtain power from God. In that place of direct dealings with God, we become like Jacob who wrestled with God and prevailed; we discover that God changes us in the place of secret communion.

Again there is no doubt that one of the main reasons for the ineffectiveness of the church today is the lack of secret prayer (there are plenty organised public meetings for prayer, although sadly they are poorly attended as well). A healthy Christian is one who prays much in secret and who attends the public prayer meetings when possible. Our attendance to private and public prayer reveals how strong is our desire for the church to prosper today.

The example of Jesus should cause us to engage in secret prayer. No believer would deny that the Saviour is the one we should imitate. If the sinless Saviour had to engage in secret prayer, how much more do we?

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