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Why You SHOULD be a Closet Christian (Part 1)

Here is one of those balloon-popping questions that tend to reduce swelling in the head: “So, how are your quiet times going lately? How has your private prayer and meditation on Scripture been?”

Among many Christians it seems that what was once assumed has now become optional. In the name of liberty, we are losing essential disciplines. In the Sermon on the Mount, our Lord assumes that we have a regular habit of private prayer: “…when you pray, go into your inner room [your “closet”, KJV], close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret….” (Matt. 6:6) When it comes to personal devotions, Christ commands you to be a kind of ‘closet Christian’ who regularly fellowships with Him. Oswald Chambers wrote, “It is impossible to live the life of a disciple without definite times of secret prayer.”

There is a breed of Christians and even pastors who snap back and say this is legalism. “Show me one verse in the Bible that says you should have a quiet time!,” they say. So I decided to take up that challenge. Here is a brief sketch of more than 30 different texts of Scripture that would be almost impossible to apply without some kind of daily quiet time. I’ve organized them under two major headings: biblical examples, and biblical instructions.

Biblical Examples of a Quiet Time

Think of the great examples in Scripture of regular devotion: Adam walked with God in the cool of the day (Gen. 3:8); Enoch and Noah “walked with God” and were known for the regular friendship with their Lord (Gen. 5:24; 6:9); Moses’ regular prayer life was an example to all (Exod 33:8); Job was known for his regular prayers for his children (Job 1:5); and no one had more predictable devotions than Daniel, as even his enemies testified (Dan 6:10,13).

No wonder then that Wilberforce once wrote in his journal, “This perpetual hurry of business and company ruins me in soul, if not in body. More solitude and earlier hours! …Surely the experience of all good men confirms the proposition that without a due measure of private devotions the soul will grow lean.”

Christ Himself got alone with His Father (Mk 1:35). Isaiah even prophesied of how Messiah would be sure to hear from God every morning: “…He awakens Me morning by morning, He awakens My ear to listen as a disciple” (Isa. 50:4). If the sinless Son of God needed this, how much more do we!

Andrew Murray wrote: “That is the secret of true prayer, of true power in prayer…and of power for service. There is no true…conversion…holiness…power…peace or joy, without being daily alone with God. What an inestimable privilege is the institution of daily secret prayer to begin every morning.”

The Apostle Paul also models for us a life of regular intercession for other believers. How could Paul have ever prayed for all the different needs that he lists without some kind of plan (Eph. 1:15-19; 3:14-21; Php 1:3-11; Col. 1:9-14; 1 Thess. 1:2-5; 3:9-13; 2 Thess. 1:3-12, etc.)?

– Tim Cantrell, President and Professor of Systematic Theology, Shepherds’ Seminary

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