The Secret Life of the Serious Disciple
Matthew 6:18 – “Give secretly, pray secretly, fast secretly… And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”
2 Chronicles 26:5
2 Chronicles 26:15–16
- Pride is the destroyer of an intimate and rewarding relationship with God
- The temptation to seek public approval – Mike Livingstone
Three disciplines to keep us focused on Him and dependent on His strength
- Matthew 6:1–18
1. Give Secretly
- “If we allow people to look to us for what only God can give, we are all set up for destruction.”
- Acts 2:45
2. Pray Secretly
- “Closet” prayer is fervent, uninhibited, unconditional, undistracted, intimate, and urgent.
- “Closet” prayer is powerful.
- James 5:16
- “Closet” prayer is based on protecting God’s name and advancing His Kingdom, rather than promoting our own agenda.
- The model prayer of Matthew 6:9-13
3. Fast Secretly
- Fasting adds intensity to our search for God, our study of His Word, our sincerity of faith, and our surrender to Christ.
- Bad spiritual practices vs Good spiritual practices
Bad spiritual practices:
- Sounding the trumpet before you give
- Standing in the synagogue or on the street corner
- Heaping up empty phrases in prayer
- Looking gloomy when you fast
Good spiritual practices:
- Draw you closer to the Lord
- Are often unseen by others
- Cause others to praise God
- Allow others to participate
There is both a public aspect and a private aspect to our worship. What we do in public is not necessarily wrong. Jesus saw the widow give her simple offering. Jesus heard the tax collector as he knelt at the back and pounded on his chest and poured out his heart to God. God expects us to take part in weekly worship.
There are times when we will be in the mode of instruction or discipling or teaching and people may need to see how we pray, how we give, what we do to fast. They may need to see that we are more than talk and we actually do help the poor and reach out to others.
BUT what is the ultimate purpose of the spiritual disciplines of giving, praying and fasting? In this passage Jesus tells us that their purpose is to create greater and more intimate worship and communion with the Father.
If we are always in public mode, i.e., we only go to church and pray, we only go to church and give, we only help when others are helping, we only fast when others are fasting, then we are missing out on the opportunity to cultivate a private worshipful experience that we share with the Father and with no one else. To only have a public spiritual life is to miss out on an opportunity to enter into the holy of holies. Only the high priest could enter into this place and it was meant to be a place that he alone would experience a unique encounter with his God. You will never be as close to God as you could be until you learn the power and the blessing of having a secret time with your heavenly Father.
Likewise, if you only perform these disciplines in order to appear spiritual in front of others you will forfeit the blessing and experience only a lukewarm relationship with the Father (Revelation 3:15-16).