“We may be assured of this—the secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer” (12). So writes the anonymous author of the classic little book on prayer entitled, The Kneeling Christian (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids: 1971). He means that the reason we so often fall into sin or live in discouragement or fail to bear fruit is because we do not cling to God in Christ above all things. We do not diligently seek him or lean on him or plead with him or draw on his strength. We give ourselves to busyness over communion with God and in this way we seek to accomplish in our flesh what can only be accomplished in the power of the Spirit.
Giving first place to what our dear author calls “secret prayer” is indeed a key to the Spirit-filled life but let’s be clear: prayer is not magic, its relationship. It’s not as if we simply have to file requests with God, being careful to use just the right words so that we can get him to respond as we wish. God is not a vending machine.
Rather, prayer is communication between the Father and those who have become his children in Christ. Prayer is conversing with our Father in Christ, discussing every circumstance with him, tackling every problem with him, celebrating every victory with him, growing in love with him. Prayer is one means of communion with God.
When we approach prayer this way—rather than seeing it as magic or some sort of duty—it is indeed the key to victory and fruitfulness in the Holy Spirit. It is the pipeline through which the power of God is delivered to the child of God. When we fail to tap into this pipeline, we guarantee our failure. Indeed, “the secret of all failure is our failure in secret prayer.” The secret of all failure is our failure to pursue communion with our Father above all things.
For this reason, our dear author issues a call to prayer in his first chapter. “And today I pass on that great call to you. Will you give heed to it? Will you profit by it? Or shall it fall on deaf ears and leave you prayerless?” (17) His desire is not to criticize or condemn, he makes that clear earlier in the chapter (13-14). But his heart is to encourage, even to prod, us down the road of communion with God that we might come to know the power of life in God. May we reverence the God who inspired this prodding by heeding the call to secret prayer.
Longing with you to know the joy of secret prayer,Pastor Charlie