Do you ever wish you could get away from everything for awhile? Head off to the mountains or a beach or a beautiful resort? There’s actually a place you can go that’s even better than those places – and you can go there as often as you want. That place is in the presence of God. I hope you’ll listen as my wife, Lana, describes how she enters God’s presence by going to her “prayer closet.” We hope it will encourage you to find a place where you can go and spend time with God, too. (Recorded February 15, 2002)
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Hi this is Lana Elder and welcome to The Ranch.
It’s not easy to find a quiet place in our house with five small children. But I’m always encouraged when I think of Susanna Wesley who had 19 children. When she needed time with God she would sit in a chair and throw her apron over her head. Her children knew not to disturb her during her prayer time.
We’re told that she seldom spent less than an hour each day in prayer. Her sons John and Charles Wesley founded the Methodist church and wrote many of the hymns that are sung throughout the world. John, her fifteenth child, said this about his mother:
“I learned more about Christianity from my mother than from all the theologians in England.”
What an encouragement to any of us who think we are too busy to find time to pray!
I don’t know if it would work for me to put an apron over my head First of all, I don’t have an apron. Even if I did, my youngest would think I was playing a game of peek-a-boo. But I do believe each of us should have a special place where we can go and meet with God.
In our time today I’d like to encourage you to find a place where you can go and spend time with God uninterrupted from the distractions of this world.
Let’s just pause for a word of prayer.
Heavenly Father, I pray that you would use this time and this message to speak to us about different ways we can spend time with you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
A Place to Meet with God
One of the best things about God is that He is always with us…wherever we are. So you can meet with God anywhere - in a closet, in your room, or in a special chair.
Let’s take a look at a few of the places where people in the Bible met regularly with God.
The book of Daniel records in Daniel chapter 6, verse 10:
Now when Daniel learned that the decree had been published, he went home to his upstairs room where the windows opened toward Jerusalem. Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God, just as he had done before.
Moses made it a habit of meeting with God, too. In Exodus chapter 33, verse 7, it says:
Now Moses used to take a tent and pitch it outside the camp some distance away, calling it the “tent of meeting.” Anyone inquiring of the LORD would go to the tent of meeting outside the camp.
Both of these Godly men made it a habit to pray daily to God and they both had a special place where they felt most comfortable meeting with God. Daniel’s place was his room. For Moses, it was a tent.
You may have a special place where you sense God’s presence. It may be a beautiful park or a quiet spot along a creek. The beauty of His creation is an easy place to recognize the reality of God and feel His presence. Usually though, we are so desperate for God that we don’t have the time or the money to go to those places. Or maybe the weather keeps you from taking that walk with God that you wish you could take. For me, I need Him everyday! So I need to have a place where I can go and meet with Him daily.
Jesus set an example for us as he often retreated to a solitary place to pray. The first chapter in the Gospel of Mark tells us that just after he called the first disciples and healed many people He got up very early in the morning and went to a solitary place to pray.
Mark chapter 1, verses 35 says:
Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.
Matthew chapter 14, verse 23 records another example just after Jesus fed 5,000 people and dismissed the crowd:
After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray.
Now I know that if the Son of God himself needed to spend time with His Father in a solitary place, I do too.
Not only did Jesus make it a habit to pray in a solitary place, but He also taught us in His Sermon on the Mount of Olives that praying in private is a good habit for us as well. He says in Matthew chapter 6, verse 6:
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
Wow! Jesus even tells us to go into our room, close the door and pray to God. For me, I used to just go into my bedroom and sit either on the bed or in the chair at my husband’s desk. But, being easily distracted, I would see that the bed needs to be made. Then I would decide to check my email or I’d notice a toy wedged between the dresser and the wall. Of course, I’d have to retrieve the toy, which would lead to another discovery….large dust balls behind the dresser. I would then be totally off track and would have wasted precious time that I was supposed to be with God in prayer or worship!
The Prayer Closet
That’s when I decided to try praying in my closet.
I remember one time hearing someone talk about going to their prayer closet. When I first heard them talk about it, I wasn’t sure if they were really talking about going into a closet to pray or if they were just saying that as a figure of speech. Most of the time we hear people talking about bringing something out of the closet, like a hidden sin, but not going into a closet. But I was desperate for a quiet place where I could focus on God, so I decided to try it for myself. I’ve found it to be immeasurably helpful in the time I spend with God.
My prayer closet really is just a closet! We homeschool our kids and my husband works at home, so there’s not much extra space in the house. So first, I had to clean out a section of a closet. It would probably be helpful to know that the closet in our bedroom is 6 1/2 feet long by 2 1/2 feet wide. Less than a third of the closet is where my husband puts his clothes. Another third is where we store office supplies for the ministry. I moved my clothes out of the last third of the closet into a hallway closet. This last third is what I have made into my prayer closet. The area where I sit on the floor and pray is little square about 2 1/2 feet by 2 1/2 feet.
It has plain beige walls and we put a few blankets on the ground for comfort. I have also stored a box of tissues in there, along with a paper and a pencil to write down what God is speaking to me. Each day I bring in my Bible and my devotional. When I want to worship, I also bring in a CD Walkman and a worship CD.
My goal is to make the place I meet with God free from distractions and as comfortable as possible so I can focus on Him.
Now, based on my own personal experience, I don’t recommend you store chocolates in your prayer closet. I was hiding a bag of Nestle Carmel Treasures from my kids and I ate six of them while working on this message for you. It could end up being a distraction as well as a health hazard.
The only difficulty of my closet is that it’s hard to get out. Not only is it physically hard to stand up in such a small area. But I also don’t want to leave the presence of my Father. I could spend a long time worshipping and praying and just sitting in His presence.
I was telling Eric the other day that one of my favorite times of the week is on Sunday mornings during worship. I love being totally focused on worshipping Him! At home in my prayer closet, I can do the same thing. I love to listen to worship CD’s. When I’m in my closet and put my favorite CD in my Walkman, I’m there – in His presence – worshipping Him. (Right now, two of my favorite worship CD’s are Kim Hill’s Live CD called For Such a Time as This and Michael W. Smith’s CD called Worship.)
Probably my favorite aspect of being in my closet is the freedom I feel to just be myself. I have the freedom to raise my hands and dance (although it’s a small closet). I can cry when I’m overcome with my own sinfulness or I can cry out of complete gratitude for all He’s done for me, without embarrassment that my nose is running and I look like a mess. (That is why I have a box of tissues nearby.) I’m totally free – I have total freedom to make a fool of myself.
I have also noticed that when I pray silently to God my thoughts can be easily distracted. But when I pray out loud, my thoughts and prayers stay more focused. So in my closet, I can pray out loud and not worry about anyone hearing me. The clothes and walls muffle the sound! My prayer is that someday I’ll be as bold outside my closet as I am inside it during my worship and prayer time.
It has been such a blessing in my prayer and quiet time to have a place to go to. I come out of the closet and I feel great! I feel refreshed and ready to take on the responsibilities of my day. Your prayer closet can be a great place to really feel connected to God, free from distractions and free to be the child of His that you are.
Jesus Makes it Possible
Of course, the reason any of us can come to God in prayer is because Jesus has made a way for us. Because of our sins, we are separated from God. But when Jesus died on the cross, He offered us the chance to be forgiven of our sins by putting our faith in Him. If you’ve never trusted in Christ for your eternal salvation, I pray you would do that right now. All you need to do is admit that you have sinned, believe that Jesus died for your sins and confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord.
If you’ve already put your faith in Christ, but you’d like a stronger relationship with Him, I’d like to encourage you to find a place where you can go and spend some time with Him. After trying it for a few days, I hope you’ll find yourself running to your prayer closet each day like I do, wanting to spend more time with your Daddy! He loves you. He created you. And He’ll love it as much as you do.
I’d like to close with a word of prayer.
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for giving me this opportunity to let others know what a difference it has made in my life to have that special meeting place with you. I pray that everyone who hears this message would also find a place where they can go and meet with You, whether it’s a closet, a tent, a bathroom or a special chair. Help them to meet with you each day.
And I want to pray for those of you who would like to make Jesus the Lord of your life. If that is you, would you just repeat after me.
Lord, I admit that I am a sinner and that you died as the sacrifice for my sins. I believe you are the Lord and want to make you the Lord of my life. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Thanks for coming and I hope you’ll join us again here at the Ranch.