I Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NLT)
Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.
It is almost comical where I have found myself physically seeking the Lord. All I wanted was a fifteen to thirty minute segment of my day committed to His Word and a daily conversation. I tried so hard to establish this “habit” as a young person. I really did want to know God yet every time I tried to get up earlier or read right before bed, I fell asleep. As I became a mother, I became too busy coupled with divorce, work, and then a subsequent new life unfolded by God before me. When I finally came back to the Lord, I was a mess. The only thing I really knew when religion let me down, life worked me over and I had totally failed was that I wanted God more than ever before. I am not along. The idea of a God who loves us unconditionally is awesome. The notion of grace overflowing to cover every single time sin is worth finding. Hope for the next day and the day after that would certainly help matters. But where do we find such a place that intimacy with God others call the “secret place.”
Today we are traveling to visit our daughter and son-in-law in New Hampshire. The first leg of the trip was to Atlanta where we found a nice place to stay twenty minutes from the airport. As I type these words, the other room is filled with a huge chunk of my heart sleeping peacefully. I am holed up in the bathroom, sitting on the marble floor with a pillow for a chair and towels stretched under my legs. The laptop is poised on my journal as I jot down notes and then type. The mouse on the floor on top of a piece of paper to maneuver and my cellphone next to me on the throne. This is my secret place today. I could share a number of scenarios of times and places that I have found to accommodate this obsession that I have to hear God. It only took a short time to decide that this is the place I want to be after years of knowing it was where I needed to find. It was not an easy commute. I like to sleep until the last minute. I have a busy schedule. I work a full-time job. This does not include all the twists and turns of life in the last six years since I started this ongoing pursuit. But this is not about me…it is not about you. It is all about Jesus and finding that not-so-secret place hidden in us all.
Never stop praying. Praying is constant and ongoing conversations with God. It is talking to Him throughout the day about every detail of our life. Right before that, it says to “always be joyful.” There is a reason that the words “never stop praying” comes after that. The Lord is our source of true joy. Earthly happiness is temporary. It can be ripped from us in a single moment with a stark revelation, human betrayal, a doctor’s diagnosis or a bad news. The only way to secure confident hope in God is to secure our life in the secret place of His Presence moving deeper and closer each day. The more we know God, the less likely we become to fall for the lie of the enemy, stop waiting on the promise, give up the fight for our faith or simply walk away from the Lord. It is a constant digging deeper and deeper to establish a stronger connection to the Lover of our Soul. It is a love affair of epic proportions with true potential to change our life forever. How do we talk to someone we cannot see? How do we know He is there? How can I be sure that He loves me?
John 17:20-23 (NLT)
“I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in me through their message. I pray that they will all be one, just as you and I are one—as you are in me, Father, and I am in you. And may they be in us so that the world will believe you sent me. I have given them the glory you gave me, so they may be one as we are one. I am in them and you are in me. May they experience such perfect unity that the world will know that you sent me and that you love them as much as you love me.”
I grabbed a couple of books on my way out the door yesterday. We have shelves full of them. I have every intention of reading them but just do not make the time. On the way up yesterday, I began to reread “A Call to the Secret Place” by Michal Ann Goll. Its funny how I look at the things I marked in this book more than five years ago, but find I am drawn to other things today. Ms. Goll talks about a life of prayer and pursuing the Presence of God. The act of “praying” is not as important as the substance of those prayers. God knows my needs, wants and desires. I don’t need to come before Him each day with my grocery list of problems or a honey-do list of chores. It is not a time to self-crucify either. While repentance and thanksgiving are essential to an effective prayer life, these are attitudes that should be constantly activated in our life along with forgiveness. To live in the secret place is to cultivate our relationship with God strengthen our faith so that we discover His Great Love. It is to create intimacy with God. Ms. Goll writes about famous women who are known as “prayer warriors” or experts in field. My perspective on prayer has changed so now it is no longer a chore. Reading this book again, I am discovering a change of heart on my part that I am absolutely sure has allowed me to pray more.
When Jesus prayed right before He went to the Cross, He prayed for us. Not just the men following Him to the Cross, but all those men and women that would come to the Cross and after His Ascension. He wanted us to experience the same unity that He had with God the Father. The Lord wanted us to know the intimacy of a relationship with God. Jesus said specifically, “I want them to be one like You and I are one.” Have you ever tried to figure out the Trinity? I know the whole egg scenario that will just have to do until we get there. God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit are One. It doesn’t make sense but it’s true. Hang on that thought for a minute…
Ephesians 3:14-17 (NLT)
When I think of all this, I fall to my knees and pray to the Father, the Creator of everything in heaven and on earth. I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.
Ephesians 6:18 (NLT)
Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere.
Prayer is all about unification of Father, Son, Spirit and US! Jesus gave us His Spirit as a guarantee. That guarantee is our kinship to God and Jesus. We are one. The Spirit lives inside of us trying desperately to make the connection. I see it on Facebook all the time. Siblings separated at birth sharing what little they know about each other in hopes of reuniting. This the expressed desire of the Father and exactly why He sent His Son! God knows what we need. He wants to give us what we want according to His Will. Those dreams and desires all came from Him. He isn’t waiting for us to get our life together but rather for us to pursue a life with Him. His Spirit allows us to be ONE with the Father and Son. Faith opens doors in the Spirit for us so that we can experience the Kingdom on earth. When Christ makes His Home in our heart and we develop a relationship with Him, it is like our family and special friends who we cannot live without. It is when prayer becomes a privilege. The deeper we delve into this new relationship with Jesus the less we can live without it. You will make time to know Him more. You will do whatever it takes to slip off and spend time with the Lover of your soul simply because His Love is better than life. The things that once seemed so important fade in the distance and we are able to “be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.” Love and trust are relationship issues. Thankfulness comes through deep contentment when our needs are met and wants satisfied. This is God’s Will for us. We find it in the not-so-secret place of prayer in pursuing a deeper place in the Presence of God and our relationship with Jesus Christ stimulated by His Spirit in each of us. We all have it. There now the secret is out.
Ephesians 3:12 (NLT)
Because of Christ and our faith in him, we can now come boldly and confidently into God’s presence.
Well, I cannot hold up my “office” much longer. The troops are stirring and a line is forming. You and I have been given the opportunity to enter a relationship with God the Father through Jesus His Son. We are not a third wheel. We have been given the Holy Spirit to be a vital participant in this relationship. The only requirement is a longing in our heart to connect that gives way to action. There is no clear cut path into the Presence of God per se. In other words, there is no four point sermon that will crack the code. Relationships are all different. I have five children. I love them all the same. We all have different relationships and interactions. Imagine that times every person in the world. No two are the same. The only thing we need to enter His Presence is faith. To believe that God’s Love is greater than any other force governing our life and more valuable than any other asset we have. The rest is locked away inside of us hidden there by God in the not-so-secret place called our heart, soul and spirit. The Holy Spirit will lead the way. Jesus made the introduction. The rest is up to us. Will you come boldly today? Or remain just outside the door? It is totally and completely up to you…and me to live in the not-so-secret place of the Presence of God!
Psalm 16:11 (NLT)
You will show me the way of life, granting me the joy of your presence and the pleasures of living with you forever.