Alone With God
(The following lesson is taken from the writings of Steve Bray- “The Faith that Prays”)
But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place, and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. (Matt. 6:6)
Jesus provided His first public teaching to His gathered disciples in what is now called His Sermon on the Mount. There He explained to His followers about the Kingdom of God—its laws and its way of life.
In God’s kingdom we find that He is not only the divine Ruler, but He is also our Father. Jesus is trying to help us see the necessity of living as dependent little children—children who instinctively know that their parents are the source of everything they need. If we will depend on our heavenly Father in this same way, where we recognize the necessity of receiving everything from Him, we will gain access to the infinite resources of the kingdom of heaven. Let us keep in mind, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” (John 3:27) Through our communion with our heavenly Father, we will learn how He wants to be the source of everything we are and do. We will begin to see Him as the source of everything we need.
The Lord began by teaching His disciples to find a secret place for prayer. Every disciple needs to have some solitary spot where he can be alone with God. That spot can be anywhere. It can even change from day to day. But this secret place must be a quiet place. The pupil needs a place where he can quiet himself and listen for the still small voice of the Spirit. It is then that he will begin to come into a closer relationship with the Father.
In His first words about prayer, we find Jesus using the name “Father” three times: “Pray to the Father”; “Your Father will reward you”; “Your Father knows the things you have need of.” The first thing we do in secret-prayer is to meet with our loving Father. Each thought or petition needs to come from a simple, childlike trust in Him.
“Pray to your Father who is in the secret place.” We must meet with God. We need to come into open fellowship with Him. But God must hide Himself to the carnal man. Those who want to pray so that others will hear them and think highly of what they are doing are living too much in the flesh to truly meet with God. Jesus said that this is what the self-exalting Pharisees did. God will not permit this flesh-life to come into His presence. As long as our worship continues to rise out of a self-centered or self-exalting nature, we will be prevented from entering into God’s presence. But to the man who is willing to become nothing in himself so that God may be his “All in All,” and then waits for Him in secret, the Father will reveal Himself.
“And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Here Jesus assures us that true prayer will inevitably be fruitful. The blessings we gain from our secret prayers will become evident in our lives. When we have truly begun to live through the Spirit, others will plainly see how God is an intimate part of our life. They will begin to see how God honors those who truly walk in the light. “But he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:21) Although the prayer is in secret, He will “reward you openly.”
Jesus also said, “Your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” At first sight it might appear as if it is not necessary to pray. Yes, God knows what we need far better than we do. But He still wants us to come before Him in dependent faith to express our need. But that does not mean we have complete freedom to have whatever we want. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” (Rom. 8:14) We are to surrender ourselves to a Spirit-directed way of life so we may share with God in His desires and seek the fulfillment of His will in our lives.
Once we are living by the Spirit and can hear our Lord’s voice, we can then begin to ask according to His will. Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice…” (John 10:27) As our Shepherd, He knows what we really need. And as we begin to see how He is leading us, we will know what we need to seek through our prayers. We will then have the wonderful confidence to say, “My Father knows this is something that is needed.” If there is any delay in the answer, we will learn to hold on in quiet perseverance. He always answers the prayers of His children when they are being led by the Spirit. “And your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”
To be alone in secret with the Father should become one of the highest joys for a Christian. This promise of the Father to openly reward your secret prayers should be both your motivation to pray and an inspiration to place all your hope in Him. He wants you to look to Him to be the source of everything you need. “And my God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 4:19) Continue to come to His throne of grace. That is your true source of hope. There is not one mountain too large for Him to move out of the way when you live by faith in Him.
Your Father knows the plans He has for you. He wants you to enter into these plans and begin looking to Him in faith to be the source of the power that actually carries out the work. Then you will learn to come to Him in prayer. This is what enables Him to reveal to the world how He works through His children of light.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.” (Jer. 29:11-12 NIV)
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. (Eph. 2:10)