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Do You Have A Secret?

jt telling kathryn a secret.jpg“But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” Matthew 6:6

The public possesses a voracious appetite for tell-all books and exposé’s, crammed with gossipy tidbits. Movie stars like Liz Taylor, sports heroes like Joe DiMaggio and Joe Louis, and politicos like J. Edgar Hoover, Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, Bill and Hillary Clinton have all been served up to this unsavory cause. Aspiring authors have even dredged up filth on legendary icons like Thomas Jefferson. No less a figure than Abraham Lincoln recently got trashed in a negative tome.

The raw material for this genre of literature comes from the very human tendency for secret lives. What many do and say in the open often differs glaringly from their true character away from prying eyes and ears. People shield their true feelings and actions from others because they don’t want to be judged as fraudulent, phony or unworthy.

But not all secret lives are sordid. Successful students run secret lives of heavy reading and untold hours of research. Athletes who make good don’t rely on luck, but rise early each day to a secret life of rigorous training and demanding practice. Entrepreneurs who break into the millionaire circle probably engage in behind-the-scene studying of financial tables and product research along with late-night hours. The point is that no one can sustain an openly successful life without supporting it by a secret life of focused thought and hard work.

Jesus based his statement on the observation that the public parades of the Pharisees were more like charades. All of their spirituality was put on display for others, but there was little or nothing to back it up in private. They prayed when people were looking, but lived in prayerless homes. They gave big offerings, but only when they knew they would be noticed. They had no understanding of the true desires of the very God they claimed they knew and worshipped. To them, the acclaim of men fulfilled all their religious goals.

God wants a secret relationship with us. He longs for our dedicated time, spent with Him alone, when no one else sees or knows what we are doing. He wants to be our refuge, the One to whom we run when our day is done. He wants time with us that is not shared with others and not cheapened by even the threat of interruption. He reaches out to us all day, and He looks for our reach-back in the closeted, sweet communion.

Secret prayer yields public strength. God has chosen to openly reward those who pray in private. Just as carpenters deliberately hide load-bearing beams in ceilings, even so we deliberately cover up the source of our spiritual strength. Others may never know for certain about our clandestine travails, but our spiritual power testifies to our secret activity.

Our truest prayers are forged in secret. Here, we can forego feelings of embarrassment, minced words and glossed over problems. In this secret relationship, we can pray prayers that others have no opportunity to admire or condemn. In this secret chamber, He can tell us things that we may miss when we are out in the crowd.

What does your secret life look like? If you want your walk with God to be powerful and effective, if you want to exert a positive influence on others, if you want a reputation of integrity and honesty, then your secret life must consist of spiritual practices. If you want your works to make a difference in public, cultivate a deep and secret relationship with God. No man or woman of God who has left a lasting impact in this world has done so without maintaining this secret with God.

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