Father, we surrender before You. We kneel before You in our hearts. We open up our hearts before You. We pray, Lord, that You would help us to quiet our hearts, all the distractions we lay down before You, all the noise we pray that You would silence them. We pray that we would hear Your voice and Your voice alone.
We want to have an encounter with You. We want to meet You. We want to leave this place changed. Help us, Lord. Help us, Lord. Meet us, Lord. We give ourselves to You. Thank You, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
If there’s one thing you wish you could be more of, or you wish you could do better in the Christian life, or one quality you wish you had in more quantity, what would it be? This is not rhetorical. So if you have something you wish you could do better, something you wish you could have more of, a quality, a practice, what would it be?
Like Sister Sarah, I would also want consistency. We all know reading the Bible is like food to a spirit and to the soul. We know that prayer is communion with God. We know this in our heads, but how are we doing in practice? I think we have good days, Saturday nights for me, generally are good nights because I know I have to come up here. But without that pressure, it’s possible, you know, the weeks I don’t preach, I might not feel that same pressure on a Saturday night, but at least once a week, generally I feel desperate.
I need to kneel before the Lord. I need to quiet myself. I need to pray. I need to ask Him things. I’m asking for an encounter, revelation. But without that pressure, I think it’s very possible in our Christian lives to go on autopilot, to go weeks, months, even years and not really connect with the Lord. And I think the key that the Lord is asking of us in this season is consistency.
We know our world is getting more difficult. We know that difficult days, years lie ahead. So how do we prepare? We prepare through consistently coming before the Lord. And today the title of this message is “The Secret Place.”
Psalm 91 verse 1, He who dwells in the secret place of the most high shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
And then Matthew 6 verse 6, 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.
And then Matthew 5 verse 16, Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
Do you have a secret place? Is the secret place a place where you frequent often? Do you visit that place? Do you fellowship with the Father who lives in secret?
And so just a few things I want to say about the secret place. The secret place is where your Father is. That’s why we need to have a secret place. He lives in secret.
Secondly, in the secret place, you and I are changed. Strongholds are demolished. Minds are renewed. Fears are crushed. Idols are discarded. Discernment is sharpened. Wisdom is deposited. Thanksgiving is sown. All of this happens in the secret place. And while we fellowship with the Father who lives in the secret place, you and I are changed.
And then we emerge from the secret place with a light that shines before men, and even non-Christians begin to glorify our Father who is in heaven.
To illustrate these principles, I want to go through some characters in the book of Daniel. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, Daniel’s friend, and of course Daniel himself.
If you could turn with me to Daniel chapter 3. Nebuchadnezzar at the time was a king of Babylon. He made an image of gold in chapter 3. He issued a decree that whenever you hear certain music, everybody in the land would stop what they’re doing, and they would fall down and they would worship this gold image. And anybody who failed to obey or to comply, they would be thrown into a fiery furnace.
And of course Daniel’s three friends, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, did not bow down. They did not kneel and worship the gold image. Some spies among the people obviously alerted the king that these three friends of Daniel’s did not bow down when the music was played, and so the king summons them.
And here is the exchange in Daniel 3 verse 16. Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us from your hand, O King. But if not, let it be known to you, O King, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.
There are some in the body of Christ who are super diligent when it comes to prayer. But they come with the wrong heart. My own people, Koreans, we wake up early, many churches. And personally, I would love to have an early morning prayer because I think that would hopefully jumpstart a desire for secret prayer. There are some who may come in the morning because they want to be seen, they want to appear a certain way before others in the body of Christ.
So that’s a wrong motive. But once we taste being in God’s presence, the hope is that you would do this privately in your secret place with a God who lives in secret. So of course, if you have the wrong motive, if you have the wrong attitude in prayer, in that time that you spend diligently day after day is meaningless. It’s just a ritual, a tradition of men, and you’re doing it for some other reason.
But I love what the three friends said. And this is not something you can just manufacture in the moment. The fact that they could stand before a king knowing that possibly they may die when there’s so much pressure, and I’m sure there are other so-called believers in the land, but only these three stood up when the music was played.
This is not something you can just do in a moment. We might think we can just be heroic, and there may be people who are martyred for Christ, but they just do it out of heroism. But I don’t think for the most part people can do this. And even if you did it with heroism, when you’re not really close to the Lord, would God approve of dying like that? Would He be pleased with that? Or is that something else motivating that person entirely?
I think these three men, the reason why they can act this way publicly is because they did something privately with the Lord. They had a prayer life in the secret place, and so they are able to declare that God is able. He can do this. Of course He’s able. All of us would agree.
And then in this particular occasion, they say, He will do this. And there are times when we pray, we know God is able, but there are certain moments when we get a surge of faith, and God is confirming to us, yes, in this moment it’s impossible, but God will do this.
I think these three are testifying about the faith that they’re experiencing in that moment, that surge of faith. But they also acknowledge they are not God. They are not manipulating God. They can’t just declare something and make God do what they ask for. They say, if He doesn’t, still we won’t bow down.
So God is able. He can do it. He will do it. Even if he doesn’t do it, I will not bow down. Amazing faith that they displayed publicly. I think it’s because they had a private time with the Lord in the secret place, and it’s just the private practice coming out publicly.
In a rage, the king orders the furnace to be heated seven times hotter than normal, and the fire was so hot that the men who were dragging these three friends, the furnace, were fried to a crisp, and they died. That’s how hot it was.
And then we pick up the account in verse 24. Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished, and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire? They answered and said to the king, True, king. Look, he answered. I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt. And the form of the fourth is like the Son of Man. Then Nebuchadnezzar went near the mouth of the burning fiery furnace and spoke, saying, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the most high God, come out and come here. Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came from the midst of the fire, and the satraps, administrators, governors, and the kings, counselors gathered together, and they saw these men on whose bodies the fire had no power, and the hair of their head was not singed, nor were their garments affected, and the smell of fire was not on them.
And so who was this fourth figure in the furnace? The king refers to this figure as an angel, and some may interpret it as such, but I think prophetically the king declares that this fourth figure is like the Son of Man. I think this is, as we’ve been sharing in various messages, this is a Christophany, this is the pre-incarnate Christ, Jesus is there in the fiery furnace with these three men.
And then we continue in Daniel chapter 6. It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom 120 satraps to be over the whole kingdom, and over these three men of whom Daniel was one, that the satraps might give account to them so that the king might suffer no loss. Then this Daniel distinguished himself above the governors and satraps because an excellent spirit was in him. And the king gave thought to sending him over the whole realm. So the governors and satraps sought to find some charge against Daniel concerning the kingdom and they could find no charge or fault because he was faithful, nor was there any error or fault found in him.
To me Daniel would be a good role model for us to follow. When it comes to motivation in life, like why should I study hard? Why should I be a good student? Why should I be an excellent employee? Why should I always be excellent in all that I do? I think Daniel gives us ample motivation. He was exalted, he was distinguished, he was promoted because he was excellent.
And so there were three governors and under the three governors, 120 satraps, local administrators with authority. So the governors are on top, satraps are second tier, and Daniel was the premier one among the three governors. He was made second only to the king.
And so we want to ask why. Is it because he’s ambitious? Is it because he wants to be praised by men? No, it’s because he has an excellent spirit. And that excellent spirit in him translated to an excellent work ethic. And that excellent work ethic translated into an excellent reputation. Even when people are trying to bad mouth him and find fault in him, he is blameless. He has an excellent reputation. He’s a hard worker. All of this comes because he has an excellent spirit.
King Darius knew if I put Daniel in charge, I will suffer no loss. He’s not going to cheat me. I’m going to maximize my profit. I am in good hands. I can trust Daniel because he’s proven himself.
Don’t we want to be this kind of person in this world? Not for glory of men. Not so our parents are proud of us. Not because other people say we’re great, but we want to be excellent as ambassadors for Christ. We want to display this kind of character, that everything we do, we are excellent. We don’t grumble. We’re not like pushing people out of the way and jockeying for position. We’re not political. We’re not that kind of a person. Even in school, we do it excellently unto the Lord.
There’s some who have an excellent work ethic, but they have a bad reputation because their spirit is not right. It comes out in personality flaws. It comes out because everybody sees, oh, they’re just selfish. They just want to be on top. They talk down to people. They’re not pleasant to be around. They can be excellently disciplined. They can have a good work ethic, but there’s something that doesn’t sit well with you, something not right about this person. You know they’re not a team player. You don’t want to be working on a project with such a person because if the spirit is not right, the reputation will also follow.
Apostle Paul says it a different way in Ephesians chapter six. Bond servants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh with fear and trembling in sincerity of heart as to Christ. Now with eye service as men pleasers, but as bond servants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart, the good will with good will doing service as to the Lord and not to men knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.
And so there is another motivation for us as believers. We’re not doing it for men. It’s not eye service. We’re not like working really hard when our boss walks into the room. We’re not that kind of a person. We are just consistent. We’re excellent because we’re doing it for a different audience. We’re doing it unto Christ. It is the will of God. We do it with a sincere heart. That is the motivation.
I know it’s tough. I know when we look at our world, like why try? Like why should I do well in school? Why should I try at work? When this world is falling apart and there’s so much corruption, here’s the motivation. We’re not doing it for men. We’re doing it unto Christ.
And the governors and satraps in Daniel’s day, they could not find fault in him. And yet Daniel was lifted up. And so out of jealousy, they conspired to trap him. And the only way to trap him was because of Daniel’s faith. And they convinced the king, King Darius, to ban prayer for 30 days. No request will be made to any gods of any religion. And you cannot make any request to any person, any man, only to the king for these 30 days. So it was a ban on public prayer.
And so we pick up the story in Daniel 6 verse 10. Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home and in his upper room with his windows opened, opened toward Jerusalem. He knelt down on his knees three times that day and prayed and gave thanks before his God as was his custom since early days.
And that’s why I think the Lord, he wants us to be consistent. Just because an edict came upon the land. I mean Daniel, like if we were in Daniel’s shoes, couldn’t we say, do we really have to be rigid about it, Lord? I mean, I’ve been praying in front of my window. I mean, I would love one day to have an upper room with a gorgeous view, open the window and pray. I would love to have that kind of a prayer. I hope one day we can, as a church, maybe have that kind of a place to pray. And Daniel could have easily reasoned like any of us would. Well, can I just do it in a closet? Like we’ve been talking about a secret place.
Can’t prayer be done in secret? I think for Daniel, it was more than that. Yes, we meet God in secret. But there is a consistency. Like if he didn’t pray that way, if he prayed privately all along and he just continued praying in private, I think there’s no problem. But because he prayed this way consistently since his early days, I think Daniel knew in his heart, I am compromising if I were to pray in secret. I cannot stop praying publicly just to avoid punishment and probable death.
And there are things that all of us will face in this life. And there will be many, many justifications. Well, everybody else is doing it. Why do I have to adjust? There’s many justifications that will come in the moment that will convince us it’s okay to compromise what we’ve been doing.
So the first question is, is there this type of practice? Is there this type of consistency? Daniel did it three times a day. Muslims as a nation, as a religion, they do it consistently. Christians, you look at church calendars, one of the meetings that is missing on most church calendars is the prayer meeting. And so shame on us Christians. The thing we know we need to do the most, which is to pray, which is to have our secret place, that is the first thing to go.
And I know we’re all guilty. We’re all guilty. Life is busy. I understand life is busy. And you are trying to put food on the table and you feel the pressure. You see the tuition bill that’s coming in the mail. There is a lot of pressure and you look at your shrinking bank account because food prices, inflation, and gas prices, and I understand that often the first thing to go is prayer.
And when push comes to shove, when you are maybe consistent in prayer for a season, when the time of testing comes, will you keep praying or will you let it slide? Will you justify and say, well, everybody else is doing it. Everybody else is busy. It’s between you and the Lord in your secret place.
I pray you and I can develop consistency in our secret place. Just because there is a law, just because there is a situation, just because everybody is doing something, let’s not adjust. Let’s maintain the consistency in season and out of season, no matter what happens. Daniel’s greatness is his consistency. I think Daniel’s friends, their greatness is their consistency.
We’re watching March Madness in our household. UCLA, they should have been champions this year. They had some injuries. And if I were coaching UCLA, I think they would have won because I’ve been studying Gonzaga. I know that guy. I’ve seen that player make half court shots, buzzer beaters. And so if I’m the coach, there’s no way I’m letting that guy open.
And that guy makes it. And you might think, it’s a lucky shot. He just got past half court. His foot was on the logo. It’s like a Steph Curry kind of shot. We can think it’s lucky, but when you listen to the interview, and I’ve seen it in game times, no, he practices that shot. It’s not just random that he made that shot and the coach drew up that kind of play.
It was designed. UCLA was not prepared. They thought, okay, they’re only winning by one or two. Gonzaga is certainly going to drive in. So UCLA pushed back their defense. And Gonzaga got an open three. I should be the UCLA coach. He makes that in practice. And so when he’s put on the world stage, that guy, I knew when that shot went up, it’s going in. And sure enough, they won. And UCLA could have been March Madness champion, but they didn’t get a chance now.
We’re all going to get tested at some point. And what you do in the private privacy of your secret place, whatever you practice, practice makes perfect. So when the testing comes, Daniel’s three friends, they pass. They were ready to die in the furnace.
They said, if God doesn’t deliver us, we know he can. We think he will. Even if he doesn’t, the fact that they were willing to go into the furnace and not bow down, it’s because they were kneeling before God in the secret place. That is what worship is. It is when you kneel before the Lord, you’re prostrate before the Lord.
And they resolved in their heart, they’re only going to worship one person and one person only. They’re only going to fear God. They’re only going to worship God. They don’t fear man. They don’t fear death. And so because they resolved this through practice, through consistency, when the testing came, they walked straight into the furnace full of faith. And Jesus was there. Jesus did, in fact, deliver them.
Same for Daniel. He could have rationalized, I don’t need to pray publicly. I don’t have to stand in front of the window. If I’m a little bit on the side by the wall, nobody will see me. God will understand. I want to live. But he knew he can’t compromise. He’s been doing this since his early days. Just because a law comes, is he going to change?
What will it take for you and me to change? What law, what situation before we just let go of all our convictions? What will it take for us to compromise? For Daniel, he was not willing to compromise. He prayed like this three times a day consistently since his early days.
And he was not about to change because a decree by a human king. What’s amazing about the testimony of these men is that out of their privacy, they came out of the secret place, the three friends, and Daniel, and their light shined before men. And what happened was that pagan kings like Nebuchadnezzar and Darius praised their God.
What an amazing thing that if you and I are transformed to this extent, a time will come when we will have an audience before pagans, before kings, before rulers. And that will be a time for us to shine and the Holy Spirit will give us words. And in that moment, these rulers will glorify our God because of what they’re witnessing. The light is so bright in our lives.
And it says in Daniel chapter 6 verse 20, and when he came to the den, he cried out with a lamenting voice to Daniel. The king spoke, saying to Daniel, Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God whom you serve continually been able to deliver you from the lions. Then Daniel said to the king, Oh, King live forever. My God sent his angel and shut the lion’s mouth so that they have not hurt me because I was found innocent or pure before him. And also, oh, King, I have done no wrong before you. Now the king was exceedingly glad for him and commanded that they should take Daniel up out of the den. So Daniel was taking up out of the den and no injury whatsoever was found on him because he believed in his God. And Darius offers praise and then he says, Daniel’s God sent an angel.
And again, the word here is the same angel that was in the fiery furnace. It’s only occurs two times in scripture. Daniel chapter three, Daniel chapter six. So if Daniel chapter three, if the angel, the messenger that was sent by God was the pre-incarnate Christ, who was the angel, the messenger that shut the mouths of these lions? It was again, Jesus Christ.
We read about these men in Hebrews chapter 11 that because of their faith in Jesus, the mouths of lions were shut and the violence of fires were quenched. It’s talking about these four men because of their faith in Jesus.
I encourage you, if you don’t have a secret place, find one quickly. Things are going to get tough in our lives. Find a secret place. Consistently visit that place. Our Father lives in the secret place. Go to Him and hide under the shadow of the Almighty. Okay, let’s pray.
Father, we confess that our lives are busy and chaotic at times. So many voices, so many needs, so many things on our plate. Especially these days, we feel the financial pinch and Lord in times of crises as we are in right now, often we stop praying. Forgive us, Lord.
If there’s one thing that we know we need to do, that we want to be consistent in, isn’t it to pray to You in our secret place?
There are many kinds of prayer. We can pray as we drive, we can pray as we walk, we can pray as we work, we can pray as we garden, we can pray throughout the day. But there’s a certain kind of prayer that is necessary, especially in these days. A prayer in the secret place where we worship, where we have strongholds demolished, where we lay down our idols, where our discernment is sharpened and wisdom is deposited, where we are transformed in Your Presence.
Father, you live in the secret place and we cannot stay as we are if we are on our knees before You, prostrate before You, desperately wanting to hear from You. With a Bible in one hand and worshiping before You, Father, may this be our daily practice, may it be something we can do three times a day or more.
We know that Daniel was exceptional because of his consistency, his practice. You could use him in an incredible way. Lord, we need to be in a secret place just to have motivation for life, just to be a good student, just to be a good worker. Many in the body of Christ are losing steam, we’re losing motivation to fight, to work hard.
Father, may You change us in the secret place, may You promote us because we’re so transformed. I pray that You meet us.
Thank You, Lord Jesus, for dying on a cross. Good Friday is coming, we are remembering your suffering, not just on the cross, but all the disciples abandoning you, your closest friends, the loneliness of the cross, the suffering of the cross, the scorn of men, the ridicule, the spitting in your face, the slapping of your cheeks.
Lord, you did this because of our sin. Daniel, in his prayer time, he offered one thing primarily, it was thanksgiving. He sowed thanks. Thank you for saving a sinner like us, Lord. May we never stop giving thanks to You. You’ve been so good to us, to save us, to provide for us, to protect us, to shield us.
We sow thanks in this hour. We pray that You meet us. Thank you for Your Body that was broken and Your Blood shed. I pray that You meet us, minister to us, and encounter us in this time as we close. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name, Amen