The Power of the Secret Closet

THE POWER OF THE SECRET CLOSET

Grandma was babysitting her grandson, Kirk. Kirk followed her into the bedroom as she put up things away in the closet.
"Grandma," he said, "what room is this?"
"This is a closet, Kirk," she explained.
"We don't have a room like this in our house," he said.
"Of course you do," she said, "You have lots of closets in your home."
When Kirk again denied having closets in his house, she tried another approach. "Where do you keep all your clothes?" Grandma asked.
"In the dryer," Kirk replied.

Like Kirk, many Christians don't realize they also have closets.

We have a closet in our life where we hide stuff we don’t want exposed. We don’t let anyone go in it, not even Jesus. It needs to be cleaned out, but we find it difficult to get rid of that stuff.

We have another closet where we hide our faith. We don’t talk about it. We only come out of that closet on Sundays, if at all.

And there is a closet that doesn’t get used much. It is a secret closet where we need to go daily, close out the world, seek God, and pray.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:5-6, “And when you pray, you shall not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily, I say unto you, they have their reward.  But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward you openly.”

The first lesson Jesus taught His disciples about prayer was, “Spend time alone with the Father in prayer.” Jesus is speaking about shutting out the world, and spending intimate time communicating with God. Part of that communication is listening to God, the Holy Spirit, by reading the Word, meditating on it, and personally applying it.

The power of spending time in our secret closet with God is that it changes things, especially us, as we abide in Christ and His Spirit abides in us.

1 John 3:19-24
By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything. Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God; and whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. And this is his commandment, that we believe in the name of his Son Jesus Christ and love one another, just as he has commanded us. Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

The time we spend with God changes our view of GOD as we come to know Him, for Who He really is.

This intimate time with God also changes our view of OURSELVES. We see ourselves as God sees us. As we yield to the Holy Spirit, He changes us from one degree of glory to another into the image of Christ.

2 Corinthians 3:16-18
But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

Our view of the WORLD is also changed. When we spend time in our secret closet of prayer, we will see others as God sees them—lost or saved. We will realize our responsibility as ambassadors of Jesus Christ to share the Gospel.

Luke 10:2
And he said to them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.”

Notice Jesus said to pray earnestly. The power of the secret prayer closet is that it provides a place to pray earnestly.

E. M. Bounds, a man of earnest prayer, said, "Prayer is not learned in a classroom but in the closet".

Oswald Chambers is quoted, "Prayer does not fit us for the greater work; prayer is the greater work"

In the secret closet of prayer, we also find God’s peace. As the song says, "Oh, what peace we often forfeit; Oh, what needless pain we bear. All because we do not carry, everything to God in prayer."

Along with His peace, God gives us power over confusion and disorder in our life, in our family, our job, and our church.

In the secret closet of prayer, God assures us of His divine protection.

Psalm 91:1-2
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the LORD, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.”

It’s easy to fall into the trap, “I’m too busy to pray”. We can all come up with reasons to accept substitutes for our personal, private time with God. What we are really saying is, “I have my priorities wrong.”

Are we busier than Jesus was? Each day He became more and more famous. Everywhere He went, hurting people crowded after Him. But Jesus did not allow an active ministry to prevent private time with the Father. He continually went away alone to pray. He would heal the sick until late into the night then go away very early in the morning to a solitary place to pray alone. If Jesus needed time alone with the Father, how much more do we?

Mark 1:32-35
That evening at sundown they brought to him all who were sick or oppressed by demons. And the whole city was gathered together at the door. And he healed many who were sick with various diseases, and cast out many demons. And he would not permit the demons to speak, because they knew him. And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.

When we build private time with God into our life, we are building on a sure foundation. When the storms of life come (and they will come), we can stand strong. When friends and family disappoint us, we can stand strong. When life turns against us, we can stand strong. When Hell unleashes its fury against us, we can stand strong.

Why? Because personal, private time with the Father is that powerful.

Some refer to the secret closet of prayer as a “War Room”. The concept of the “War Room” is that battles are not only waged on the battlefield, but often far away at a military headquarters in a room called a “War Room.” This Room is where the battle on the field is planned. As a result of planning, many times a weaker army has out-maneuvered a stronger army and defeated them. It wasn’t the strength of the army that prevailed, but the strategic mind of the general who directed it.

This same thing happens in the spiritual realm. Far superior armies are defeated because there is a higher power directing the battle.

One of the best examples of this is when Israel, under Gideon, was fighting the Midianites. In the “War Room” of prayer, God gave Gideon a battle plan that would fail if God was not leading it. It was so incredible, Gideon asked God for an improbable sign to assure him God was speaking to him. After God performed the miraculous sign, Gideon was assured that He heard God’s plan and God would carry it through. By faith, he followed God’s plan and God brought complete victory with no casualties.

Judges 7:19-22
So Gideon and the hundred men who were with him came to the outskirts of the camp at the beginning of the middle watch, when they had just set the watch. And they blew the trumpets and smashed the jars that were in their hands. Then the three companies blew the trumpets and broke the jars. They held in their left hands the torches, and in their right hands the trumpets to blow. And they cried out, “A sword for the LORD and for Gideon!”
Every man stood in his place around the camp, and all the army ran. They cried out and fled. When they blew the 300 trumpets, the LORD set every man’s sword against his comrade and against all the army. And the army fled as far as Beth-shittah toward Zererah, as far as the border of Abel-meholah, by Tabbath.

How is all this discussion of “War Rooms” applicable to us? Because each one of us has ongoing battles. It might be with our health, a shortage of money, a troubled marriage, unforgiveness, insecurities, anxiety, children going the wrong direction, our job threatened by a boss, a co-worker, lay-offs, or unsaved loved ones.

Our mistake is thinking that we can win these battles on our own. Our battle must be fought in the war room of prayer! As someone once said, “All things happen by prayer and nothing without it.”

The problem is we don’t believe that.  When we pray, we often don’t see any change in our situation—so we abandon prayer. That is like laying down our weapon and surrendering to the enemy. We are in a spiritual war and wars are often lengthy. This war is taking place in the spiritual realm, and we can’t see it, but we can affect it. Therefore, we must persevere in prayer to see victory!

Again, E.M. Bounds said, “God shapes the world by prayer. The more prayer there is in the world, the better the world will be, the mightier the forces against evil …”

Watchman Nee gave this illustration, "Our prayers lay the track down upon which God’s power can come. Like a mighty locomotive, His power is irresistible, but it cannot reach us without rails."

And here’s an interesting quote from Richard Alleine, "The reason why we obtain no more in prayer is because we expect no more. God usually answers us according to our own hearts."

He is talking about an earnest prayer, and that lines up with James 1:5-8
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.

God has ordained prayer as the means of summoning His intervention! For example:

In the summer of 1876, grasshoppers nearly destroyed the crops in Minnesota. So in the spring of 1877, farmers were worried. They believed that the dreadful outbreak would once again visit them and again destroy the rich wheat crop, bringing ruin to thousands of people. The situation was so serious that Governor John S. Pillsbury proclaimed April 26 as a day of prayer and fasting. He urged every man, woman, and child to ask God to prevent the terrible plague. On that April day, all schools, shops, stores, and offices were closed. The next day temperatures soared to a very high temperature for April.
Minnesotans were devastated as they discovered billions of grasshopper larvae wiggling to life. For 3 days the unusual heat persisted, and the larvae hatched. It appeared that the wheat crop would be wiped out. On the fourth day, however, the temperature suddenly dropped, and that night frost covered the entire state. It killed every one of the pests as surely as if poison or fire had been used. It went down in the history of Minnesota as the day “God answered the prayers of the people”.

Prayer is God’s idea, not ours. He calls us to enter the secret closet for an intimate time with Him. God would never have invited us to pray if He had not intended to hear and answer us. The invitation implies there are blessings to receive.

Therefore, remember your relationship to the King who sits upon the throne of grace! You aren’t merely His servant—you’re His child—an heir of God, and joint heir with Jesus Christ!

Remember the character of the King who sits upon the throne of grace. He is infinite in mercy and love and He delights to bless His children. He is infinite in power and is, therefore, “able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think.” He’s unlimited in His resources, so our requests can’t exceed His ability to help us.

One of the things we are to pray for is the salvation of those around us. We are in a battle for the souls and lives of people we know. The battle is not against flesh and blood.

Ephesians 6:12
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.

Sidlow Baxter said, “Men may spurn our appeals, reject our message, oppose our arguments, despise our persons, but they are helpless against our prayers!”

How often do we say, “Well, I guess all we can do is pray”? Prayer is not a last resort. Prayer should be our first act. It is our most powerful weapon against our enemy. Prayer initiates the power of God. Do you believe that?

If so, I invite you to step out in faith right now and ask God for what you need. We will pray with you in this battle against the enemy. Those of you that have a battle in your life—whether it be healing; financial; marriage; unforgiveness; fears; kids; temptation; job situation; depression; need direction; whatever—stand up!  

I entreat you to continue praying and listening to our Father in your secret closet. He will give you a battle plan and tell you what to do. You can do this all day long as you commune with Him about everything.

Those of you who need salvation and baptism, we invite you to receive God’s promise by faith in Jesus Christ. If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, who atoned for your sin on the cross and rose from the dead to sit at the right hand of the Father, then make a public confession of your faith today. Repent of your sin and give your life to Jesus by dying to yourself in baptism. You will be born again of the Spirit, who will lead you into an intimate relationship with the Father in a secret closet of prayer.

   November 2018   
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