I’ve been to some good church conferences, among them John Arnott’s International Leaders School of Ministry and Paul Miller’s A Praying Life and The Person of Jesus courses. However, the St Andrew’s church weekend away led by Rupert Charkham of Holy Trinity, Cambridge, was among the most refreshing and interesting among them.
Charkham talked about prayer, and about how prayer, by the strictest divine command, must be secret (Matthew 6:6). When we pray, or live a life of prayer, we are OHMSS, Oh His Majesty’s Secret Service, and none should know it but ourselves.
He went on to say that people–even (or especially!) the committed, bustling, ubiquitous church men and women, upfront, on stage, on every committee, running everything—are tempted to neglect the life of prayer because they feel “no one can tell.”
However, Charkham went on to say, “People can tell. Prayer has a profound effect on your life. And prayerlessness has a profound effect on your life. You can’t hide either of them.”
As 90 % of the bulk of an iceberg is below the water, so 90% of what happens in our lives, and what makes us the men and women we are, and makes our lives turn out the way they have, happens in the realm of prayer. Prayer is like the roots of our lives, hidden, but vital to the health and strength of the visible plant–or life.
That’s why there is a quietness about mature Christians. Their big work is done in prayer.
Like giving, like fasting, Jesus commands us to pray in secret, seen only by God (Matthew 6 1-18). As such, it is an act of pure faith, pure love.
We are promised a reward, though. A public reward—“and your father who sees what is done in secret will reward you openly.” (Matt. 6:6).
A reward from God. Wow, it makes me rub my hands in anticipation. I am happy to take whatever reward God chooses to give me–whether in the earthly realm of health, wealth and success, or the spiritual realm of good relationships, peace, joy, shalom and happiness. Or, God willing, both!!
The things we do in secret will be revealed openly, both the good things–our prayer lives, our giving, our fasting—and our hidden intrigues, manipulations, evil words and gossip. “There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs.” Luke 12:1-3
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