The Secret Place
Tim Clinton, Ed.D.
“Prayer is self-discipline. The effort to realize the presence and power of God stretches the sinews of the soul and hardens muscles. To pray is to grow in grace. To tarry in the presence of the King leads to new loyalty and devotion on the part of the faithful subjects. Christian character grows in the secret place of prayer.”
Samuel M. Zwemer
Where do you live?
Where do you sleep?
Where do you eat?
When and where do you pray?
Most would respond, “Over food” – “with my kids” – “in church”. Common answers. And good answers.
But Jesus talked about a place of prayer that really mattered to Him – the “secret place”. A place of solitude where He would often withdraw into privacy and spiritual intimacy with His Father.
It is interesting that Jesus used the religious hypocrites of His day as a warning about prayer. They loved to pray in public. For show. With loud voices. Out of duty and pride. Jesus made it clear that being seen by others was their reward (Matthew 6:5 ESV).
With encouraging direction Jesus continues, “But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret.”
The “secret place”. Where God abides. Where He sees into our hearts and minds. The room in which God is in touch with the things we think go unnoticed, but matter deeply to Him and us.
And by the way, Jesus added – “your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” (Matthew 6:6 ESV) Sowing in the secret place of prayer, reaps God’s rewards.
You can tell people who pray in secret. Their countenance shines with the very Glory of God. They have a humble boldness. A gentle strength. The mind of Christ.
But too often the pace of life has paralyzed the power of our prayers. We have relegated our “quiet time” to spiritual fast food, micro-waved on the fly. A quick “Bless me Lord” as we head off to bed or into a day of the unknown.
Finding time to pray, much less a “secret place” is hard to do with the press of the world, and the pressures of our much-too-busy lives.
Jesus understood this. When the “great crowds gathered to hear Him (Jesus) and to be healed of their infirmities” (Luke 5:15 ESV) there was the potential for His life to become frantic and a bit chaotic. Vs. 16 says that it was at those times that Jesus “would withdraw to desolate places and pray.”
In the very next chapter, when the religious leaders were “filled with fury” and began to conspire as to how to kill Jesus, “he went out to the mountain to pray, and all night he continued in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:10-12 ESV).
The “secret place”. The back side of the mountain. The space in life where it is just you and God. It is private. Separate. Alone. No show and tell there. No flowery words meant to impress. Just raw, direct intimacy with our Creator.
In the secret place, it’s God and you.
Make room for God in your life. And make a room for God in your life. A secret place where you “worship the Lord in the splendor of His holiness” (Psalm 29:2 ESV).
It will turn your life around.
Tim Clinton, Ed. D., LPC, LMFT (The College of William and Mary) is President of the nearly 50,000-member American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), the largest and most diverse Christian counseling association in the world. He is Professor of Counseling and Pastoral Care, and Executive Director of the Center for Counseling and Family Studies at Liberty University. Licensed in Virginia as both a Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, Tim now spends a majority of his time working with Christian leaders and professional athletes. He is recognized as a world leader in faith and mental health issues and has authored over 20 books including Breakthrough: When to Give In, When to Push Back. Most importantly, Tim has been married 36 years to his wife Julie and together they have two children, Megan, who recently married Ben Allison and is practicing medicine in dermatology, and Zach, who plays baseball at Liberty University. In his free time, you’ll find him outdoors or at a game with family and friends.
Posted on: Feb. 21, 2017, 2 p.m.