Everybody wants to know the secret to something. Golfers want to know the secret to playing golf like Tiger Woods. I know I do. 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 secret to effective prayer. So what is that secret? The secret was provided by Jesus Christ. Doctor Luke points out that Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. He wasn’t like the religious leaders of the day. Jesus didn’t pray to be seen by men. He prayed because He treasured fellowship with His heavenly Father. Hypocrites, on the other hand, gain their reward through public prayer. They may be perceived by the world as being spiritual giants but by the time they’re finished they will have received everything they’ll every get – their prayers’ worth and nothing more.
Another secret is to recognize the connection between prayer and meditation, and I think this is so crucial that we should mark this forever on the canvas of our hearts because prayers are only as inspired as our intake of Scripture. Scripture feeds meditation, meditation gives food to our prayers and allows us to more naturally transition into meaningful prayer.
One other thing I’ll say about prayer. To discover your secret place is a great place to start in terms of the secret to prayer. It’s a place where you can drown out the static of the world and hear the voice of your heavenly Father. Of course the issue is not the particular location, but the motivation. We’re all unique, so your secret place will no doubt be different from mine. The point is we all desperately need a place away from the invasive sounds of the world so that we can hear the sounds of another place and ultimately the sound of another voice.
When I memorized the Sermon on the Mount, one of the most beautiful sermons ever preached, glorious in every way, I remember when I was taking these words and internalizing them: “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.” Now this doesn’t mean you can’t pray publicly. It means that your motivation has to be in the right place. It’s not to be seen by men. It’s to genuinely communicate with the one who spoke and the universe leapt into existence.