Listen to the Great Master in the Sermon on the Mount. “When you pray, don’t be like those show-offs who love to stand up and pray in meeting places and on the street corners. They do this to look good. I can assure you that they already have their reward. When you pray go into a room alone and close the door. Pray to your Father in private. He knows what is done in private, and he will reward you.”
“When you pray, don’t talk on and on as people do who don’t know God. They think God likes to hear long prayers. Don’t be like them. Your Father knows what you need before you ask” (Matthew 6:5-8).
Following this quote, Jesus gave the model prayer. Jesus prayed often in his visit to earth and in the Garden of Gethsemane, his “prayers became as great sweat drops of blood” (Luke 22:44).
Hearing Jesus pray, the disciples ask, “Lord, teach us to pray”. A prayer to God is always answered but may come in different ways. As a child we would ask Father for a favor, and the answer was, “Yes”, “No’, “Maybe so”, “Just wait and be patient”. That may be the way God answers. Prayer is communion with God and our petitions to Him CONFIRM OUR FAITH. The apostle Paul suffered with a “Thorn in the flesh”. That ‘thorn’ was never identified yet Paul wrote, “Three times I begged the Lord to make the suffering go away, but he replied, my kindness is all you need (my grace is sufficient for you). My power is strongest when you are weak. So if Christ keeps giving me his power, I will gladly brag about how weak I am. Yes, I am glad to be weak or insulted or mistreated or to have troubles or sufferings, if it is for Christ, because when I am weak, I am strong” (II Corinthians 12:8-10).
So much for Theology, but now let’s get to the subject at hand and down to practical things. “Secret Prayers of the Heart” are words we offer in thought. How often do you think of loved ones far away? How frequent does your mind wander from daily tasks and dwell on problems and difficulties? The other night, I could not go to sleep. Ann was heavy in pain and my mind was a constant bubble bursting open. Then it began to dawn on me that all my thoughts were nothing more than “Secret prayers of my heart”. True, I did not continually say “In Jesus Name” but who else was listening? “Holy Spirit help me,” l was saying. “In certain ways we are weak, but the Spirit is here to help us. For example, when we don’t know what to pray for, the Spirit prays for us in ways that cannot be put into words. All of our thoughts are known to God. He can understand what is in the mind of the Spirit as the Spirit prays for God’s people. We know that God is always at work for the good of everyone who loves him” (Romans 8:26-28). The Holy Spirit indwells every believer or he doesn’t indwell any believer. So Paul writes, “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his son into your hearts, crying Abba, Father” (Galatians 4:5-6).
Every good thought about life, loved ones, problems and tragedies all come up before God as the prayer of a believer. It is in the name of Jesus Christ we pray but the prayer need not be audible or punctuated. They become the “SECRET PRAYERS OF THE HEART“.
Answer the question, “What does the Bible mean when it says “Pray without ceasing”, or “pray all the time”? “. Is this not the meaning of “Be instant in prayer”? You don’t have to be in a circle or assembly or called on to offer a prayer. That which breaks the heart should automatically take us to closet of our mind. This shuts the door and begins ‘a conversation with God’. Public prayers are not condemned. Judgment falls on those whose motives are to be seen and heard of men. The hypocrite (this word means ‘play acting) is the one whose mouth should be shut until the heart can be opened.
One of my favorite poems was written by Margaret Diane Rasbury. Cut it out and read it often:
“I pray for you and yet I do not
Frame in words
The thousand wishes of my heart.
It is a prayer only to speak your name,
To think of you when we are far apart.
God has not need of words, he hears my love,
And understands the things that are not said.
For love is prayer, and so my prayers
For you mount upward unto him eternally.
They are not many and they are not few,
All are as one that ever seem to be.
Thus do I prayer for you and cannot say,
When I begin or when I cease to pray.”
Prayer? It’s simple. They express our faith and trust in God. They are love messages. They may be sobs of pain over suffering. Even when we are engaged in our secret prayer-thoughts, the Spirit promises to take our feeble words, and make them meaningful and beautiful.
(Biblical quotations are taken from the Contemporary English Version)