(If you’re not much of a reader but are interested in this topic, this series has been condensed into a 43min sermon that I was privileged to share with my church family in Manchester earlier this year. Click here.)
Let me share something with you that changed my life. In Matthew 6 Jesus puts some of our dirty laundry out in the open right in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount! Please give it a read before you read on! It’s pure poetry. Every line is bursting with life and revelation for us that stirs our hearts and punches us right in the mindsets! He tells us that our Father, God, wants to reward our actions but that the state of our hearts can cause us to forfeit our rewards! He highlights the fact that our good deeds don’t actually impress God. They must be accompanied by pure motives. I find it very easy to identify the issues he highlights in myself. Maybe you can spot them in you too. Reading this chapter over and over, particularly up to verse 18 (highly recommended), has injected me with a virus that is intent on shutting down my need to be seen and esteemed by people. Jesus repeats a phrase over and over and it’s at the centre of this series:
“Your Father Who Sees in Secret”
Wow! The first two words alone could warrant their own blog series! Perhaps another time… I want to focus on this concept of the Secret Place which, if you haven’t heard the phrase before, is often thought of as a place of private prayer and connection with God. Maybe somewhere in your house that you go to be alone and pray or read the Bible. For some of us, thinking of the Secret Place churns up some guilt because to us it’s that place we know we don’t visit enough. I’d like to propose that the Secret Place isn’t a place to visit but a place to live. A place to dwell (Psalm 127:4). I’d like to propose that the Secret Place Jesus is referring to here is indeed the place of prayer but is also an attitude of the heart and an internal reality for the believer. I believe this attitude finds its expression in many ways and one of them is prayer.
The Secret Place lifestyle is a conscious choice in the face of other options.
In modern society, it’s no secret that technology screams for our attention continually throughout the day. We MUST update our status and tell the world about our day! We MUST post a foodie of our epic breakfast! We MUST keep up-to-date with every Vine that’s released so we can quote the funny catch-phrase that goes with it! We MUST catch up on our favourite reality TV show about spoilt rich kids! We MUST get the latest sequel to that game that will be exactly the same as the last one but ever-so-slightly different! Yikes! In the Church we also live in the age of online Christianity where at the click of a button we can access a global library of Christian music, Christian sermons and Christian…blogs. Through our social media sites we can send testimonies, prayer requests and Bible verses around the world in seconds! Hallelujah!
With so much to distract us, and so many people to impress, the Secret Place is often neglected, along with our Father who loves us and is waiting in there. The problem is, we now have many more ways to appear more spiritual publicly than we are privately. Know what I mean? No? Well then maybe you’ll join me for the rest of the series. I’ll share some of my own struggles and victories in this area (please feel encouraged to share yours too) and I’ll be looking particularly at Matthew 6 among other Bible passages and issues including:
- All Eyes on Me
– Addressing our need for attention and approval
- Iceberg vs Cruise Ship Christianity
– The importance of embracing the hidden life with God
- The Furnace of the Father’s Heart
– What actually happens to us in the Secret Place?
- The Battle for the Secret Place and the Lion’s Roar
– Why is it so hard to pray and what happens when we do?
These are some BIG topics and I don’t pretend to be an expert on them at all but I’m really excited about this series and I’ve been really looking forward to writing it so I hope that you’ll subscribe and stay the course! My dear sister Joanna has also done some art especially for the series and each piece will be gradually revealed as we go so stay tuned for those!
“And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.” John 17:3
You can now jump over to Part 1!