Everyone wants to know the secret to something. Golfers want to know the secret to playing golf like Tiger Woods. Investors want to know the secret to making a fortune on Wall Street. Parents want to know the secret to raising healthy, happy kids. And Christians desperately want to know the secrets to effective prayer. So, what are the secrets to real intimacy with God?
The first secret to effective prayer is secret prayer. And Jesus provided the ultimate example. As Dr. Luke puts it, he “often withdrew to lonely places and prayed” (Luke 5:16). Unlike the religious leaders of his day, Jesus did not pray to be seen by men. He prayed because he treasured fellowship with his Father. Hypocrites gain their reward through public prayer. They may be perceived as spiritual giants, but by the time they are finished, they have received everything they will ever get—their prayer’s worth and nothing more.
A further secret is to recognize the connection between prayer and meditation. Our prayers are only as inspired as our intake of Scripture. Scripture feeds meditation, and meditation gives food to our prayers. Meditating on Scripture allows us to more naturally transition into a marvelous time of meaningful prayer. Donald Whitney, who rightly refers to meditation as the missing link between the intake of Scripture and prayer, notes that if there was a secret to the prayer life of evangelist George Müller, it was his discovery of the connection between meditation and prayer.
A final secret is to discover your secret place, a place where you can drown out the static of the world and hear the voice of your heavenly Father. The issue, of course, is not location but motivation. We are all unique creations of God. Thus, your secret place will no doubt be different than mine. The point is that we all desperately need a place away from the invasive sounds of this world so that we can hear the sounds of another place and another Voice.
For further study see, Hank Hanegraaff, The Prayer of Jesus: Secrets to Intimacy with God (Nashville:W Publishing Group, 2001).
“But when you pray, go into your room,
close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.
Then your Father, who sees what is done
in secret, will reward you.”
A few prayers in the Bible:
Abraham’s servant—Genesis 24:12–14—Prayed for success in finding a wife for Isaac
Jacob—Genesis 32:9–12—Prayed for protection
Job—Job 13:23—Prayed for conviction of sin
Moses—Exodus 32:11–13, 31–32; Deuteronomy 9:26–29—Prayed for mercy
Moses—Exodus 33:12–18—Prayed to know God and to see his glory
Manoah—Judges 13:8—Prayed for guidance in raising his son, Samson
Hannah—1 Samuel 2:1–10—Prayed to exalt God with thanksgiving and praise
Elijah—1 Kings 18:36–37—Prayed for vindication and proof of God’s power
Hezekiah—2 Kings 19:15–19—Prayed for deliverance from enemies
Solomon—2 Chronicles 6:21—Prayed for forgiveness of sins for Israel
David—throughout Psalms—Prayed with thanksgiving and praise for mercy and grace, conviction of sin, forgiveness, instruction, and deliverance from enemies
Jeremiah—Jeremiah 20:7–18—Prayed to complain
Ezra—Ezra 9:6–15—Prayed to confess his people’s sin
Daniel—Daniel 6:10–11—Prayed for help with thanksgiving
Daniel—Daniel 9:9–19—Prayed to confess his people’s sin
Jonah—Jonah 2:1–9—Prayed for restoration
Jesus—Matthew 26:36–46—Prayed for God’s will
Jesus—John 17:1–26—Prayed for himself, for the disciples, and for all believers
Jesus—Luke 23:34—Prayed for forgiveness for his enemies
Apostles—Acts 1:24–25—Prayed for selecting Judas’ replacement
Apostles—Acts 4:29–30—Prayed for the bold proclamation of the gospel with miracles
Stephen—Acts 7:59–60—Prayed for the Lord to receive his spirit and to forgive his killers