Summary: A series on prayer. This is the second message in the series on prayer. It is about the things that secret burden and place of prayer.

The Secret Burden

Luke 11:1 KJV And it came to pass, that, as he was praying in a certain place, when he ceased, one of his disciples said unto him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples.

Matthew 6:6 KJV But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.


-The church at large is very anemic. There is life but little of the life-sustaining force that can help us to overcome sin, live in a state of commitment, love our brother, and hunger for revival.

-The church is anemic in the area of prayer. Busyness, carelessness, materialism, and all sorts of other excuses (but no real reasons) flit through our minds as to why that we cannot pray.

-Ultimately the reason for the lack of prayer is spiritual lethargy and laziness.

Leonard Ravenhill (While Revival Tarries, Chapter 2, Prayer Grasps Eternity) No man is greater than his prayer life. The pastor who is not praying is playing; the people who are not praying are straying. The pulpit can be a shop-window to display one’s talents; the prayer closet allows no showing off.

Poverty-stricken as the Church is today in many things, she is most stricken here, in the place of prayer. We have many organizers, but few agonizers; many players and payers, but few pray-ers; many singers, few clingers; many pastors, few wrestlers; many fears, few tears; much fashion, little passion; many interferers, few intercessors; many writers, but few fighters. Failing here, we fail everywhere.

-The crying need of my life and of yours is prayer!

-The following is an account that I received from __________ (a ministers forum) on the internet. While I have never met Brother ____________, some of his past writings have provided to be very beneficial for me:

Christmas was a revival for me... I spent 5 days in ___________. I truly believe it has changed my ministry.

It started when, with the banter of all of the family in and out of the house, I needed to find a place to pray in the mornings. I asked my father in law if he would like to go to his church pastored by __________ in __________, for prayer. I could not get away from the pushing in my spirit to steal away for some time with God. We went.

The Lord opened heaven to me on Saturday morning. It was definitely a bench-mark meeting with God. Sunday as well, and Monday, and Tuesday, and this morning. I am overwhelmed.

How the Lord is dealing with me about prayer. I walked into that church and they had a prayer log book... everyone is encouraged to come to the church some time during the day for prayer. The anointing I felt as I walked into the building was sweet and tangible. No sooner did I get to praying with my father-in-law that many others were there as well. Each time I went it was the same.

On Sunday morning I had the opportunity to pray with all the ministers. The place was thick with God. It was not that they had 24 hour prayer, because they do not, but they simply encourage everyone to pray at the church some time during the day. When the preaching went forth Sunday it was so basic... nothing fancy... and at least 10 people - not churchgoers - ran to the altar. The preacher was not interested in finishing his message.... he started laying on hands and God filled many with the Holy Ghost. The place was prepared by prayer.

Have we become an organization of preachers when we used to be an organization of prayer-ers? Have we fancied up our churches with good messages, meaty dishes, and wonderful thoughts from the Bible... but we have not spent time in prayer?

Is the church the House of Preaching? The House of Evangelism? The House of Youth? The House of Self-Help? Or is it primarily and most importantly THE HOUSE OF PRAYER???

My heart is convicted. Somehow, we must get our people to pray. We must teach them that true revival does not come from methods or certain SPEAKERS OR PREACHERS but it comes from God through prayer!

HAVE WE BEEN TEACHING OUR PEOPLE THAT RESULTS COME FROM PREACHING AND AN ALTAR CALL? OR SHOULD WE BE TEACHING THEM THAT RESULTS COME FROM PRAYER? The enemy has stolen rich, lengthened, powerful, war-raging, hell-dousing prayer from right under our noses! WE ARE NOT PEOPLE OF PRAYER. We have become dependent on our talent, our messages, our flesh, and our evangelism for church growth.

We preach about Azusa...yet we do not pray like Azusa. We preach about the day of Pentecost...but we forget the long hours of prayer it took for that baptism to envelope those people. We preach about revivals of yesteryear... but we do not pray like yesteryear, and wonder why we do not have the revivals of yesteryear.

Many of us now expect from preaching what God says he will only give as a result of prayer.... We have become flesh-centered....

2 Chronicles 7:14-15 KJV [14] If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. [15] Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.

Get a prayer log book for 2007. Teach your people to pray. Ask them to take time each day to come to the church for prayer. We have to move our walk with God to the top of our priority list.


-The Lord intends for us to pray. . . . Consider the following:

Luke 18:1 KJV And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Matthew 5:44 KJV But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 6:6 KJV But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

Matthew 6:7-9 KJV But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. [8] Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. [9] After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

Matthew 9:38 KJV Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest.

Luke 11:13 KJV . . . how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?

John 16:24 KJV Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

John 14:13 KJV And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

-In fact since the Lord’s demand to pray is so clear and the issue is so important, we can see from the preceding series of Scriptures that He tells us why, how, for whom, and what we are to pray for.

• Why? For the Glory of God and for our own joy.

• How? With simplicity.

• How? With perseverance.

• How? Through His death and in His name.

• How? With faith.

• How? Not for the praise of others.

• Whom? Ourselves.

• What? Matthew 6:9-13.


-There is a place where the Secret Burden has to be embraced. Yet, we are people in an age who shrink back from burdens of any kind. . . But spiritual power is so dependent on it.

Matthew 6:6 KJV But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

-Notice the progression of this Scripture:

• Enter.

• Shut.

• Pray.

• Receive.

A. Enter In

-The life of the Lord was an open and quite public life. No matter where He went there were those who pulled at Him and demanded His attention. Those who were around Him were both friends and enemies. His friends probably tried to shield Him and His enemies tried to scathe Him.

-When you begin to look at the miracles, numerous times it was the need that pulled Him into service.

• The sudden entrance into the miracle at Cana at the wedding feast.

• The demands of the hungry crowd to break the bread and fishes.

• The subterfuge of the storm that had to be calmed to save the disciples.

• The cry from Bartimaeus for healing from the blindness.

• The cry from the lepers for relief from their disease.

• The position of the Syro-Phoenecian woman for healing for her daughter.

-These are just a few of the times that He was pulled from the crowd to heal and meet the needs. So what was the secret of His power? How could so much go out of Him?

-The secret of His power was the secret place of prayer.

Mark 1:35 KJV And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.

Mark 6:46 KJV And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.

Luke 6:12 KJV And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

Hebrews 5:7 KJV Who in the days of his flesh, when he had offered up prayers and supplications with strong crying and tears unto him that was able to save him from death, and was heard in that he feared;

-It is in those moments that we are willing to enter in to the secret place that power which is so desperately needed in our day comes to rest on us.

• We must have tears in our prayers.

• We long for tears in our songs.

• We hunger for tears in our worship.

• We must have tears in our preaching.

• We must have tears in walk with God.

• We are desperate for those prayers of passion, those prayers that have strong tears in them.

-There is a portion of Scripture in Zechariah (12:12-14) where the old prophet speaks of a separation. Ten times one reads the word “apart.” It is a prophetic chapter that speaks of the time when the anti-christ will rule in Jerusalem. Jerusalem will experience the brunt of judgment.

-When this happens, the old prophet says, everyone will be “apart” in their mourning.

• Every family, apart. (Every family system)

• The house of David, apart. (Political system)

• The house of Nathan, apart. (The prophetic system)

• The house of Levi, apart. (The priesthood)

• The house of Shimei, apart. (The ministers of the altar)

B. Shut The Door

Matthew 6:6 KJV But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.

-Two things generally bring men to the secret place of prayer:

• A Secret Sin.

• A Secret Burden.

-To pray apart and to pray alone is one of the most valuable experiences of our walk with God. In fact, secret prayer is the very lifeblood of a saint. If there is no secret prayer. . . then their can be no effective prayer.

-Public prayer often robs us of our humility and our dependence on God.

-The command of the Lord came. . . . When you pray, go into the closet. Retreat to prayer. Go to a place where no eyes will see you and that no ears may hear you.

-When we close the door to the world. . . something happens in the world of the Spirit.

i. Values Are Adjusted

-When we shut the door on the world and kneel in private prayer, our values and benefits suddenly become much clearer. What had been overlooked in the public place, now has a heightened value.

• There is a love for those around us.

• There is an appreciation for the things that we often take for granted.

• The value system of the world suddenly becomes so fleeting.

• The value system of God suddenly absorbs us and the value of prayer, the Word of God, the blessings of the Spirit, and the place of fellowship is worth more than gold.

ii. Perspectives Are Clearer

-When we shut the door to the world, our perspectives are brought into a clearer focus. We can see things as they really are.

• Half of the fears and anxieties of life are suddenly put to rest.

• The small misfortunes can be seen as something that is honing our spirit into what God desires.

• The overwhelming disappointments no longer give power to depression.

• The weariness that wilts our energy loses its hold.

• The maddening, all-important pursuits of life suddenly take a back seat to God’s plan.

• The loss that we grieve over so much really does not matter in God’s full measure of things.

-The closed door is the path to power.

iii. The Lord Becomes Real To Us

-If we ever can get the door closed, the Lord becomes so real to us.

• We can hear His voice as He calls His sheep.

• We can feel the security of strength as He calms the storm.

• We can smell the bread being broken in His hands.

• We can feel the power of the Resurrection.

• We can have our hearts burn within us as He brings revelation.

I will never forget Brother ________ telling the story of when he got his first church years ago in Texas. He said that it seemed like that everything that he tried to do went wrong. Not only did everything he tried to do go wrong but the church was having some huge problems that seemed to have no resolutions.

Finally after having tried everything that he knew to do, he told Sister _________ that he was going to go and find a place to pray. The only real place to get away from it all was in the attic of that church. So he climbed up into the attic of that church and started praying. It wasn’t long until the sun began to scorch down on the outside and the temperature inside of the attic began to climb. Brother _______ said that he prayed on and on. After three hours of praying in that hot attic, he came down and his clothes were literally dripping wet because of the heat. But it was in those hours of prayer that turned that little church around on a path toward revival. Prayer can turn problems around better than counseling, reasoning, explaining. . . Prayer marks us with power!

C. Pray

-We have entered. . . . We have shut the door. . . Now we pray. . .

-Public anointing will never exceed private devotion. This is what happened to David when he said:

Psalms 39:3-4 KJV My heart was hot within me, while I was musing the fire burned: then spake I with my tongue, [4] LORD, make me to know mine end, and the measure of my days, what it is; that I may know how frail I am.

-Once we find that secret place of prayer, the minutes toward midnight can run into hours, the midnight hours can turn into early morning watches.

-The man of prayer, in his closet, is as the watchman on the wall who watches for the stealth of the relentless enemy. He is a watchman who is alone from the human touch but is filled with the power of God.

-It is extremely difficult and at best doubtful that men will be able to confess their sins in the public arena of prayer. . . . But when we are alone in prayer, when the door of the closet is shut, we close the world out and close God in.

There is an old Arabic fable that tells the story of a great rock in the ocean that would literally draw ships into it. Once the ship hit this rock, it would be dashed into pieces casting the crew and its load into the murky depths. If a man has been magnetized by a certain sin, he will be destroyed by it.

But if that man turns himself to prayer, he will not carry gunpowder toward some dock that has sparks flying. If that man turns to prayer in the secret place, he will not take a host of precious goods toward the reefs. If that man will turn to prayer, the Lord will lead him through that place that is surrounded with thieves. That is the power of secret prayer!

• Song -- Sweet Hour of Prayer

• Song -- What a Friend We Have In Jesus

-In the closet, we can enter into the Garden of Gethsemane and it as at that point the soul can sweat great drops of blood.

Jeremiah 9:1 KJV Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!

-Tears. . . Tears. . . Tears. . . How we long for tears in the place of prayer.

-In the place of private intercession, friend nor foe, will ever know or even begin to guess, until the last day, what they owe to you and to your closet.

-The things that are notoriously destroying the character and usefulness of your friends cannot be discussed with the closest of your allies. It is only when you find that lodging place of secret prayer that those things can be brought out before God.

1 Timothy 2:1 KJV I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

1 Timothy 2:8 KJV I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.

D. Reward

2 Chronicles 7:14-15 KJV [14] If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. [15] Now mine eyes shall be open, and mine ears attent unto the prayer that is made in this place.

Matthew 21:21-22 KJV Jesus answered and said unto them, Verily I say unto you, If ye have faith, and doubt not, ye shall not only do this which is done to the fig tree, but also if ye shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; it shall be done. [22] And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

-There are unending rewards that come from prayer:

• Progress of the Soul.

• Healing in the Body.

• Relief from desperate circumstances.

• Evangelism of Nations.

• Revival and Harvest in Churches.

• Blessing in our lives.

• Restoration of broken things.


-I conclude with another man’s writings. I have not had the opportunity to meet Brother __________ from _______, but again, similar to Brother _______ thoughts, he has encouraged me in the past.

Prayer... Where to begin? How do we do the subject justice? We can’t really do it justice--we have to just do it.

I teach and preach on prayer as often as I teach anything. It is a consistent theme with me. But I really think you learn more about prayer by praying one hour than by receiving ten hours of the best and most revelatory instruction on prayer.

I was blessed to be born to a mother that loved this Precious Truth. My mother and her sister were won to God in a little country church back in the Ozark hills in the 1950’s as children.

The little church sat beside a dirt road across from a local boot-leggers house, twenty miles from a blacktop road. When the wind was out of the south in warm weather and the windows of the church were open, you could smell the sour mash cooking up the holler. But the Lord was there.

By the time I came along, my family attended an ____ church. Our closest fellowship was with the old West _________ church pastored by "Pop" _________. That church was blessed with many consecrated, praying, fasting saints. The power of God was indescribable there.

At an early age, I received an appreciation for the value of prayer. I remember an old Sister by the name of ______________. She was in her 90’s, but always faithful to the House of God. As a child, I heard her pray many times, "Oh, God, my boys are lost, and I will be coming home soon...who is going to pray for my boys?"

As a nine year old child, I was so touched by this prayer that I made a commitment to carry on her prayers for her. I never told her. But to this day I pray for the descendants of Sister ________, because she impacted me with her life and consecration. I can still hear her quavering old voice, cracked with age but resonating with the power of God as she would pray between the pews two rows in front of where I sat.

I learned early that prayer is what you do when your back is against the wall. I was a young boy, and there came a season of awful church trouble. Many people backslid as a result...some never recovered.

When things became unbearable, I remember my mama, my aunt, and my Granny gathered with all us kids at my Granny’s house one evening, locked the door and pulled the shades. They told us we were going to pray until we got direction from God.

The hours stretched long, but I will never forget when the victory came, and the glory of God filled that living room. Every person in that room, right down to the babies, survived that storm and went on to live for God. That was a landmark for me.

When I was a teenager, struggling with surrendering to the call of God, I had an altar that was mine alone. Across the road from my house there was a trail through the woods that has been worn by me making my way day after day to an old fallen tree with a fork that was just right for me to drape myself across. I wore the bark slick there, and stained it with many tears. I believe some of what I learned there at that old log has sustained me since.

Once when I was sixteen, a missionary came to our church and made an impression, a deep impression on me. He gave me a Bible marker with a picture of him and his wife on it. I began praying for them daily, and marking a tiny tally mark every time I prayed. Eventually the thing was covered with hundreds of marks.

It was quite an experience years later to host that same couple for a missionary service, and show them the little marker they had given me years earlier.

I wish I could say that I am perfect and disciplined and consistent in prayer always, but I cannot. There have been seasons in my life when I have struggled. My record is not without blemish. But I really think I would rather excel as a pray-er than as a preacher. One requires a certain gifting and ability; the other, simple willingness.

-We can conquer things when we pray. We can gain great victories when we pray. In fact, the greatest power that we have is when we pray. . .

-The year, 2007, this house must be called a House of Prayer. . .

Philip Harrelson