Summary: As we spend time in the secret place of prayer – in solitude, silence, and soaking – we are transformed into the image of Jesus.
SPIRITUAL FORMATIONS #1: PURSUING INTIMACY WITH GOD
INTRO TO TOPIC: I believe the Lord is calling us to go deeper in the secret place.
“Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works.” (Rev. 2:4-5).
“As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me.” (Rev. 3:19-20).
• Whatever else we do in this season, let’s respond to the call of Jesus to the secret place.
QUOTE: “Tragically, precious little in this hurried and hassled age promotes such intimacy. We have become a body of people who look more like a herd of cattle on a stampede than a flock of God beside green pastures and still waters.” (Charles Swindoll, Intimacy with the Almighty).
“But now, O Lord, You are our Father; We are the clay, and You our potter; And all we are the work of Your hand.” (Isaiah 64:8).
As a pastor, my heart echoes that of the Apostle Paul: “My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you.” (Gal. 4:19).
• I long to see you experience spiritual formations: growing spiritually!
• But more than that, God is wanting to form us into the image of His son, Jesus.
THE BIG IDEA: As we spend time in the secret place of prayer – in solitude, silence, and soaking – we are transformed into the image of Jesus.
TWO CATEGORIES OF SPIRITUAL FORMATIONS:
1. Engagement: intentionally doing things (prayer, Bible study, worship, etc)
2. Abstinence: refraining from doing things (fasting, silence, solitude, etc)
“(For my determined purpose is) that I may know Him – that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him.” (Phil. 3:10, Amplified).
• It’s not just about growing spiritually, but also about knowing Him more:
• The point is this: Spiritual disciplines are like physical exercise:
“Spend your time and energy in training yourself for spiritual fitness. Physical exercise has some value, but spiritual exercise is much more important, for it promises a reward in both this life and the next.” (1 Tim. 4:7b-8, NLT).
• If we want to have a healthy body that’s in shape, then we need to eat right and exercise.
• If we want to have healthy spirits, grow spiritually, then we need to train ourselves for spiritual fitness.
• John Ortberg says that “we don’t need to try harder, we need to train wiser.”
• You hear a preacher talk about the disciplines and you decide to ‘try harder’ and it works for a day or two. It’s not about your willpower, but about training yourself little by little.
• You don’t set out to run a marathon tomorrow! It takes time to develop and grow.
“Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:4-5).
• The first spiritual discipline is prayer – abiding in Jesus – in the secret place.
TESTIMONY: Discuss season of soaking, hours in my office on floor, others would join me, early morning prayer meetings. Note though that there are rhythms and seasons, and we don’t always have seasons where we can spend hours soaking (i.e. little children!).
• You’ve heard many times: “Christianity is not a religion, it’s about a relationship.”
• This is more than just ‘saying our prayers’. You can say your prayers but never pray.
• Prayer is intimate fellowship with Jesus where you spend time with Him.
• As we abide in Jesus, and get to know Him better, we will become more like Him:
“But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord.” (2 Cor. 3:18).
• Solitude is spending time with Jesus alone in the secret place of prayer.
• QUOTE: “Solitude is the furnace of transformation.” (Henri Nouwen, Way of the Heart).
• “But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6).
• As we abide in Jesus, we get to know Him better, and become more like Him.