But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret, will reward you. – Matthew 6:6
This morning when I woke up, this scripture came to my mind. For this past month, I decided to go on a social media fast and consecrate myself in preparation for 2020. As I rolled out of bed, I went into the bathroom, closed the door, and looked for this verse which was found sandwiched in between reliable instructions for how we ought to approach prayer:
"And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
"And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Cultivating the Secret Place
I truly believe that everything is birthed out of spending time in prayer. Our lives are either a reflection of the richness of it or the lack of it. Whenever I find myself moody, easily frustrated, and on the verge of burnout, I know that it is because I have not set the time aside to go and sit at the feet of the Father.
After all, none of us can pour from an empty cup.
We need time to be still, to worship, to soak, and to sit in the presence of the Lord because too many of us have been running on E and are not doing a great job at overcoming the pressures in life on our own. Look back over this last year, and consider how many times you allowed your emotions to get the better of you? How many times you snapped at your husband or kids because you were exhausted? How many impulsive decisions were made?
I'm seeing people snap under the pressures and anxieties. People are running full steam ahead in a direction that is pulling them away from God, family, and community. The voices around the motion to be busy-bees and hustlers, yet God, with His still small voice, is saying, "Come spend time with me. Come to me if you're weary and overly burdened. Sit and be still in my presence, I will give you peace, strategy, and grace for what you're doing. I will show you what to remove from your schedule. I pinpoint those energy-zappers in your life. Just come to me in the secret place. I'm here waiting for you."
There is time that we need to carve out to set our eyes on the Father. A time where we put our phones down, resist the urge to snap pictures for social media and to truly develop a 1-on-1 relationship with God that is not solely dependent on a Sunday service, or an emotional high. We need to know how to pray, in private, and commune with our Creator.
For this year, I challenge you to carve out space, place, and time where you will pursue after the heart, instructions, and presence of God. If you didn't have it in the last year, I prophesy that as you implement this, you will indeed experience 20/20 vision and clarity this year.
Let's get back to the basics.
Prayer should not be complicated. It should be like breathing. Natural, fluid, and rich. But, if you're like me, then you've probably, at some point, assuming that unless your prayers were packed with Christian colloquialism and scripture references, then perhaps God wasn't interested in them.
Or, maybe you have thought that it was a thing reserved for the "super-saints."
Or, maybe you can't think of anything to pray about (disclaimer: Look around, there's plenty to pray about).
I've been there. As a matter of fact, when I first started my walk with the Lord, I had no clue how to pray. I didn't even know what prayer was until someone expressed it to me as just opening my heart up in acknowledgment, honesty, and with complete trust and faith that God was listening, and He cared for my entire soul and existence. Instead of trying to learn how to "sound smart" and "important" in prayer, I became more childlike, talking to my Creator as a friend or a Father.
I learned the beauty of what Jesus did through His sacrifice on the cross… and that was put me back into a relationship with God, where sin and disregard had made me at odds with Him. Jesus made it so that I was no longer living as an enemy but now adopted as a daughter.
Therefore, prayer is the privilege we GET TO EXERCISE as a result of being redeemed and reconciled to a right relationship with God made available through Christ Jesus. Our prayers do not need to be lengthy and eloquent to be effective. God is not interested in a lot of empty phrases. He wants your heart. Your truth. Your honesty and transparency. He wants all of you; mind, body, soul, and strength.
However, we do have blocks and hinders to having our prayers answered.
Blocks that would hinder our prayers
Have you ever wondered or questioned why it seemed like your prayers are not being answered? Although some things are left to the understanding and timing of an all-knowing God, there are a few things on our part that would be blocked to answered prayer.
Doubt and unbelief – praying without belief
Unforgiveness - For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Out of alignment with God's will – God will not bless what is not of Him. We read the word of God and align with it because He has very clear principles, laws, and instructions that allow us to access His blessings and promises. Outside of them, He cannot do anything because He remains faithful to His Word. We either live following them, or we don't. And, if we don't live in alignment with His will, we are still in alignment with the intention of another (knowingly or unknowingly).
Unrepented sin – an area where you know is not God's will or His best for you, and you have conviction about that thing, but you're either a) continue to proceed in it, or b) needing to use this blog as confirmation to repent about it and let it go.
So, say you can identify from these things that you have blocks that are hindering your prayers. The word says that when we confess our sins, He is faithful to forgive them and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. It means that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, but He gives us conviction of the Holy Spirit so we will repent and turn away or turn back to being in proper order.
Birth Everything Out of Prayer
As we go forward into 2020, I pray that you will be fervent in prayer. Fervent means to have great zeal and passion. It means to be extremely hot and glowing, to have intense spirit and enthusiasm.
I love this word because it reminds me of God presenting us with the option to be either hot or cold for Him, but not lukewarm. I have seen God answer many prayers in my life that stem from my quiet and private time alone with Him. He is faithful to reward and give the desires of those who diligently seek Him.
Prayer does not need to be complicated. You can enter into it like a little child, understanding that the Lord already knows what you need before you even speak it, but He loves when we confess it and invite Him in. Find your secret place to spend time with Him… whether in the car or the bathroom, if you have space all to yourself, in a meeting room, or while you're going for a walk. Make room for quiet so the Lord can speak to you.
And, before you try to come up with your strategies, solutions, or bright ideas for this year, I hope that you will bring it before the throne room and into the secret place. Let people wonder and ponder about you while you allow God to cultivate some things in you. Do not despise the beauty of being tucked away in Him.
He is always pursuing you!
CHEERS TO A RICH PRAYER LIFE!
Scriptures to pray:
So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. – Hebrews 4:16
Don't worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God's peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 4:6-7
Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. – Matthew 7:7-8
Understanding the Power and Purpose of Prayer by Dr. Myles Munroe
God, God Almighty, God the Creator of man––this same God, in all His power and all His majesty, stops
and listens when you pray. All that God is––and all that God has––may be received through prayer. Everything you need to fulfill your purpose on earth is available to you through prayer. The biblically-based, time–tested principles presented by Dr. Myles Munroe will ignite and transform the way you pray. Be prepared to enter into a new dimension of faith, a more profound revelation of God's love, and a renewed understanding that your prayers can truly move the hand of God.