Hibernate in Prayer

There once was a man who loved Jesus with his whole heart. He also loved his family, served the church faithfully, and gave sacrificially, often in secret. When an evangelist joined his family for dinner the night before a revival, this man confided in the evangelist that he felt uncomfortable praying aloud in church. So, what did the evangelist do? He called on this man to pray during the revival. The congregation closed their eyes on cue but the man stood up and politely said, “No thank you” and sat back down.

That man was my paternal grandfather and I’m quite proud of him. Proud, you say? Yep. He wasn’t a hypocrite. Sure, he could’ve stood up, put on a certain air of confidence and spurted out eloquent words in an attempt to save face, but I suppose that prayer would’ve only reached the height of the chandeliers dangling overhead.

 

Jesus has something to say about those kinds of prayers.

 

“And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. 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.” Matthew 5:5-6

Jesus doesn’t deny the need for public prayer. He prayed publicly, as did the early church. And there’s nothing wrong if someone hears us pray. Jesus is simply getting to the heart of the matter: The motive.

“Do not have as your motive the desire to be known as a praying man. Get an inner chamber in which to pray where no one knows you are praying, shut the door, and talk to God in secret.” Oswald Chambers

God meets us in the secret place. It’s there we hibernate⏤where we are not seen, just as God is not seen. The King James Version refers to this place as a closet.

 

I don’t know about you, but my closet isn’t the first place that comes to mind when I think of meeting God in prayer.

 

I’m more liable to get a concussion from falling debris than I am finishing my prayer. Thankfully, we’re not bound to a closet or a particular room. Maybe it’s a corner, or a desk, outside, or in an outdoor shed. It’s more about finding a place to pray that’s free from distractions and the temptation to be heard. {Party of two, please!}

But it’s not just any prayer meeting. The word Jesus uses in Matthew 5 to describe the room or closet is derived from the word tamion, which makes me a tad giddy because it describes the inner rooms of ancient Hebrew homes that were used as a storehouse or a place of protection.

 

When we hibernate in prayer, we come to a place of abundance, not scarcity.

 

God is our storehouse. We step foot into our own tamion and find He is already there. We ask for wisdom. James 1:5 says God gives it to us generously without finding fault. We ask for physical healing, financial provision, boldness to share the gospel, or the return of a wayward child.

“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

“God is always doing 10,000 things in your life, but you may be aware of three of them.” John Piper

God is our place of protection. Spiritual attacks, temptation, anxiety⏤whatever requires His protection this side of heaven, God stands ready to provide it from a place of abundance.

We have God’s full attention and He has ours, there in the secret place. But first, we must come.

How to Hibernate in Prayer During Every Season in Life

Jot down hibernation dates on your calendar.

The power of prayer floods the heavenlies, whether it’s done publicly, privately, or spontaneously. It’s all biblical. But hibernating in prayer requires intentionality⏤giving a hint as to its power. When we are deliberate in making time to meet with God we can testify that unexpected circumstances begin to happen. Our perspective becomes sharper, our hope takes flight, and we move through our days with deeper purpose.

Be content with a heavenly reward.

Yes, those rewards which bring immediate gratification like a slick, newly painted wall are enjoyable but they’re temporal. Those who pray “the right words” in order to impress others receive their reward right there on the spot. When we pray in secret with pure motives, God says He will reward us. I tend to believe the reward is the fact that our almighty God bends to hear the quiet desires of His children, and answers those prayers for our ultimate good. But perhaps there’s even more?

Pray aloud.

So, how do we know if we’re hibernating in the right spot? We’ll feel comfortable praying aloud. I can’t explain it, but when audible words meet the inaudible desires of my heart it feels as if a victorious tag-team is taking place in my soul. And yet, there will be days when we have no words, and that’s okay, too. Romans 8:26 says the Holy Spirit stands ready to intercede for us with groanings too deep for words. There is no right or wrong way to pray in our Father’s presence.

When we intentionally spend time with God in secret, our soul awakens to divine possibilities that surround us every day. Maybe we’ll discover that it’s possible to spontaneously pray for the weary mom behind us in the check-out line. Or to become who God created us to be, flaws and all, for His glory. Or maybe, just maybe, we find the courage to pray aloud in a church gathering.

“Awake, my soul!” Psalm 57:8

What’s one thing you are praying for yourself in 2018?