But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.
Integrity has been defined as who we are when no one is looking. What we do when we are alone and in “secret” is really who we are, not the public display we may try to present to others. This can be an encouraging word to us if when we are alone, we talk to God with an open heart and seek Him earnestly. This word can strengthen us if we are an authentic person of faith who seeks to love God and people with all our heart when we pray to our Heavenly Father. Of course the opposite is true also; if we indulge ourselves in evil and lustful practices when alone, or spend our time nursing grudges and feeling sorry for ourselves, we stand in great need of correction. How we spend our time alone is a great predictor of how successful we will be in standing in faith for God in times of testing. Our “secret time” with the Lord is our training and growth time for our faith life just as the practice field is for the athlete who is about to enter a contest. We will truly only be as strong in our walk of faith with Jesus as we spend time with Him in prayer and worship alone, along with the reading and studying of the Bible. It is our internal state of faith and love that comes from spending time with the Lord that gives us the courage and power we need to deny ourselves, take up our cross daily and follow Christ (Luke 9:23). Conversely, if we give ourselves over to sin and let it master us in our thought life and habits, we shall find the life and vitality of the Lord drain away as we grieve and quench the Holy Spirit. The end result will be we find ourselves shrinking away from being able to stand for Jesus or live a righteous life by His standards. It is our choice in how we spend our time alone; being with God the Father, or letting the world, flesh and devil dominate our head and heart. When I was a child, there was a cartoon I loved to watch on TV each day after school called “Underdog.” I am really dating myself now, but you can find the cartoons on YouTube. He was a mild mannered shoeshine character by occupation, but when danger arose, he transformed into Underdog by going into a phone booth (a now extinct contraption that used to be commonplace!). But even with his powers, he still would run into trouble combating the villain of the day and all would look lost; this is when he would turn to the secret compartment in his ring he wore to take out his “Underdog Energy Vitamin Pill.” This pill gave Underdog super energy and power to conquer the enemy and bring deliverance to whoever he was saving that day (usually Polly Purebred). Of course this is just a silly cartoon, but I want us to know that God gives us a “super energy vitamin pill” to stand strong in Him and His grace if we will let Him work on us in private in our prayer closet alone. If we surrender to the love of God found in Jesus Christ and spend time with Him each day as He commands in Matthew 6:6, we will find His provision of power and faith to fulfill His calling on us. The choice is ours, will we trust God and love Him enough to spend time with Him, or will we give ourselves over to self-will and let sin rule us? I do hope we all put God #1 and let Him use us as the times are evil and the days are short now to make our lives count for eternity!
Pastor Gary Houdek