2 Kings 4:33- He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the Lord.
Are you hot or cold? I’ve been following the Lord for 20 years now. It seems like just yesterday I was being water baptized by my dad in a swimming pool, yet it also feels like it’s a million miles away in my memory. And through the years my relationship with the Lord has gone through many seasons and many valleys. I often found myself frustrated that I could be so on fire for the Lord in one season and grow icicles the next. Why do I sometimes feel so fickle in my faith? Is this normal? Do many of us experience a similar struggle and feel shame in admitting it?
It’s like when you’re a teenager and you go to youth camp. You come back with such a fire and fervency for the Lord. You just spent four days hearing message after message, singing song after song, praying and being prayed for. It’s a spiritual high. But then you come back- down from that mountain. And weeks turn into months and you find yourself yet again wandering in the wilderness. What happened? I’ve heard it called the roller coaster of faith. We go up and we go down. Can we ever just stay up? Or perhaps somewhere near the middle? I am going to admit something to you today…
the struggle is real.
I admittedly have my mountain top moments where I feel incredibly close to Jesus. These moments where every time I sing a worship song at church I feel as if I might explode, or where every time I read the scripture I am just in awe. But then there’s the quiet meadows of my faith, where I am wrestling, sometimes struggling. It’s in these meadows that I ask myself, “God, are you still there?” “God, do you still hear my prayers?” “Lord, I need to know you’re with me.” And it’s in the meadows of my faith that I find Him. We need the mountain top experiences just as much as we need the meadows.
Think about a strong marriage. Some of the strongest marriages I’ve admired will tell you this secret- they’ve had to fight for their marriage. It didn’t come easy and it only got harder when they stopped working on it and hit cruise control. These couples have fought, wrestled, and struggled together- but as they worked through their marriage they found a deeper intimacy; a new level of trust. That’s how it is in our walk with the Lord. On the other side of our struggle we find out He really is faithful. As we wrestle with our faith our intimacy in Him grows and we learn to trust Him even more.
My Secret. I could tell you my top five quiet time ideas, I could give you a list of Bible reading plans, or I could even give you a quiet time formula that might work for you. But honestly, there’s one thing, one place that I keep going back to after all of these years. And that is my closet. I know, you were hoping for something a little deeper, right? But my closet is where He reveals the deep things to me. My closet is where I sit in the quiet and in the dark and wrestle with God. When I come out, I’m changed. Literally. But doesn’t God hear us no matter where we pray? Of course. But there’s something about going in and closing the door behind you, where it’s just you and God. A place where there are no distractions and you line yourself up to listen once again to that still small voice.
He continues to draw me in. Through my 20-year journey of walking with God, I have lived in many different places and I’ve had many different prayer spots. And lately, for the first time in a long time, I’ve had the whole house to myself in the mornings. But I keep going back to my closet. He draws me in. Sometimes I read my Bible in there. Sometimes I listen to worship music on my IPhone. Most times I pray and cry out to Him. Sometimes I ask the Lord to speak to my heart and then just sit and wait. I’ve done the ugly cry where I confess that I am just desperate for more of Him and I don’t want to leave until He shows up. The closet is a place of changing more than your clothes. It’s not only a place where my outer man gets changed, but it’s also a place where my inner man is transformed and renewed.
The Secret Place. Matthew 6:6- But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. Most of your most intimate moments will be done in secret. We tend to think that the most important parts of our lives are the parts that everyone sees- meetings, church events, social media stuff, sporting events, conferences, public ministry stuff, etc. But truly, the most important stuff happens when it’s just you and God. Everything in our life will flow from that.
Distractions are real. Now just entering your secret place isn’t going to be without a fight in itself. We all struggle with the distractions going on in our thoughts, things going on in our lives, or perhaps even our to-do lists. Sometimes I feel like I’m the queen of distractions! It takes discipline and not being so hard on yourself when you loose focus. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been in my prayer closet and my mind starts to wander, and I’m like, “Lord, I am so sorry… where were we?” “Help me to re-focus on you.” Here’s the thing- He already knows us and knows we are easily distracted. He understands us. Isn’t that cool? He gets us. He knows our hearts. He loves us, and even more than we want to spend time with Him, He wants to spend time with us. We are His and He loves us so much! We were created for intimacy with Him.
And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Truly, our reward for seeking Him in that secret place is intimacy with Him. (CLICK TO TWEET) There’s nothing better. That’s the reward for the struggle. He says in His Word that He will reward us. Our secret life is so important to God- He sees everything. Everything. And He loves us so much that it pleases Him to reward us. He knows it takes faith in Him to come to Him. Hebrews 11:6- And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.
Matthew 6:4 (NLT) Give your gifts in private (secret), and your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Matthew 6:5 (NLT)- When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get.
Matthew 6:18 (NLT)- Then no one will notice that you are fasting, except your Father, who knows what you do in private (secret). And your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary says this about being rewarded for what we do in secret, “When we take least notice of our good deeds ourselves, God takes most notice of them. He will reward thee; not as a master who gives his servant what he earns, and no more, but as a Father who gives abundantly to his son that serves him.”
So today, I encourage you in your faith. Get away with Him and get changed!
Don’t beat yourself up because you’re not where you want to be in your walk with Him.
We all go through rivers and valleys. If it’s been a while since you’ve snuck away just to talk to God, today is good day. He loves you with an everlasting love. He is waiting with opens arms.
Linking up with Suzie Eller’s #livefreethursday