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Learning to Dwell in the Secret Place

Christian Living

by Ray Bentley

Learning to Dwell in the Secret Place

Most of us are living on the edge of a great secret.

God has been speaking to me about my prayer life. As a believer who has walked with the Lord for many years, taught the Bible and served in ministry, one might think I have achieved a certain level of closeness and deep understanding with the Lord. I certainly feel close and loved by Him, but He has been inviting me to something deeper, following the example of Jesus.

Jesus had just heard some terrible news. King Herod had ordered the beheading of John the Baptist. “When Jesus heard what had happened, he withdrew by boat privately to a solitary place” (Matthew 14:13).

Faced with tragic, heartbreaking news, Jesus knew He needed to get away to be alone with His Father. But the crowds continued to follow Him by foot, so “He had compassion on them and healed their sick.” He took care of them, ordering His disciples to feed the people a miraculous meal that fed thousands of people with five loaves of bread and two fish.

After Jesus had prayed for the people and fed them until they were satisfied, He finally did what He needed to do:

“Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray.”

During His time of ministry, Jesus often went away to pray.

He needed to temporarily escape the press of the crowd and the multitude of needs. This is the secret of His life and strength! He had a “secret place” of daily intimacy with the Father.

Psalm 91:1 promises us that, “He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.”

Oh, to rest in the shadow of the Almighty! Think of yourself at a beach on a hot, sunny day. Sure, it’s great to be out there basking in the warmth of the sun—until it gets scorching hot. So you run to your shady spot, under an umbrella, and feel the relief and comfort of being sheltered from the heat.

God wants to do that for us in the “shadow of the Almighty,” that secret place of prayer where we can find comfort, peace and get recharged for what’s next.

The disciples recognized that.

They saw Jesus retreat, then come back strengthened and refreshed in a powerful way. They knew something happened to Him when He stole away, so they asked Him to teach them to pray (see Luke 11)!

They wanted what He experienced in the secret place of prayer. I want that too, and I’ve been hearing God tell me that there’s more to prayer than what I have been experiencing.

While we are sheltered under the shadow of the Almighty, we are also lifted up. In the writings of apostle Paul, author of much of the New Testament, a golden thread runs through his epistles. “I press toward the goal," he said, “for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:14).

The upward calling. The secret place of prayer lifts us up into “heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 2:6)!

There is a call in the Spirit to literally ascend and by faith enter into the heavenly realms. To see life from heaven’s perspective and enter into the presence and throne of God. Part of growing in our prayer life is not just doing battle every day here on earth, slogging away at the cares of the world that hurt and break us. No, we are told:

“Since, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God” Colossians 3:1-3).

While we physically walk on earth, we can have the mind of Jesus (Philippians 2:5-8) and live with His attitude, faith and prayers.

How do we do this? How do we approach the heavenly places, this secret place?

Hebrews 4:16 tells us: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”

We are to come boldly, with confidence. Hebrews also urges us to be, “Looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

We can enter into the secret place with boldness and confidence when we look to Jesus and set our gaze firmly on Him. This can be a new way to pray for many of us. We seek God, worship, come to Him with our petitions and intercessions – all good. Then He asks us to follow Him deeper.

“Be still and know I am God,” He says. Stop for a moment in time, see yourself seated in heaven with your Lord, and listen, feel yourself drawn up into His presence. Feel the wind of His spirit lifting you up. Be quiet, be still and know.

Know, perceive, learn and experience the presence of God.

We can read and picture heaven in Revelation chapters 4-5 and other places in Scripture. We can go to this place of prayer, be filled with His Spirit and experience being with Him and hearing His voice in the heavens.

Are you weary? Discouraged? Worn out? Remember what He promises you:

"But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles, they shall run and not be weary, they shall walk and not faint" (Isaiah 40:31).

When we wait upon Him, when we are lifted into His presence, heaven touches our earthly hearts. Our praises and hearts go up, and His glory comes down to meet us, then lifts us up with Him.

This is where we experience divine revelations and visions, as we enter into His presence in a new and profound way. This is where we find the strength and courage to carry on.

You’re right on the edge.

Enter into the secret place, and His love will overflow into you and out into the world. Be still and know He is there, waiting for you, wanting to bless and fill you with His love, comfort, power and love.

Ray Bentley

Ray Bentley is the senior pastor at Maranatha Chapel located in San Diego, CA. Ray is married to Vicki. Please visit his website. Also, follow Ray on Twitter, @RayBentley.