We have all seen movies or even newscasts of Secret Service men and women as they guard and protect those in government, or even celebrities. I have even been in countries where our host would hire Secret Service-type security for our group because of the dangers that surrounded us (not because I’m a celebrity).
You can usually spot these security people because they wear suits, sunglasses, and they talk into secret microphones hidden in their lapel. Their main objectives are to protect and to safeguard. They are elite troops, specialists at performing a very important assignment.
We, as Christians, are to be crack troops on God’s special assignment too.
Jesus admonished us to do “secret service” in His Kingdom. In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapter 6), Jesus teaches us that we are supposed to do three things in secret, guarding them against public display. He said:
- Praying; and
Jesus stated that we are to be active in these three areas, but we are not to be “showy” when we give, pray, or fast. In other words, we are to be discreet and are not to put on a display for others to see. Also, since Jesus talked about how we should act when we give, pray, and fast, we can assume that we should actually give, pray, and fast.
Let’s talk about each of these three “Secret Service” activities in God’s Kingdom:
Jesus said, “Take heed that you do not do your charitable deed before men, to be seen by them” (Matthew 6:1). When we give, our motive should be pure as we give out of compassion.
Jesus warned that we should not do as the hypocrites do, as they would “sound a trumpet” or draw attention to their act of giving. He even goes as far to say to not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing. He wants us to be that discreet.
In Jesus’ day, some of the hypocrites would convert their money into a lot of coinage so that it would make a great noise when they dropped it into the wooden chests that were in the temple. Jesus was basically saying, “Don’t be like that.”
Our motive will determine our method!
Scripture records what impressed Jesus. It wasn’t the large givers who made lots of commotion.
One day, as Jesus sat by the treasury, a widow came in and quietly put in two small coins (Mark 12:42). Jesus acknowledged her gift and said it was more important that all the big, showy contributors! A quiet little “ding-a-ling” with a pure motive meant more to Jesus than loud “donks” of coins by those with wrong motives.
This is why Jesus admonished us to do our charitable deeds in secret. When we do, He promised that our “Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly” (Matthew 6:4).
The next area Jesus mentioned is our prayer time. He is not against public prayers. Instead, He is against pretentious, ostentatious, showy prayers that draw attention. He warns us not to be like the pretenders, who love to pray in the religious places or on the streets–praying publicly in order to be seen and heard.
Jesus used the words “vain repetitions” to describe hypocritical prayers.
Scripture gives an example of this in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector (Luke 18:10-14). It is interesting that the Pharisee “stood and prayed thus with himself.” He is actually listing and naming his “report card” of deeds done as an act of prayer:
- First, he thanks God that he is not like others.
- He specifically thanked God that he was not like the tax collector next to him.
- He pointed out to God that he fasted twice a week and gave tithes.
The tax collector, by contrast, didn’t even raise his eyes while he prayed.
Instead, he beat his breast, asking God to be merciful to him because he is a sinner. He admitted his condition, rather than covering it up like the Pharisee–and Jesus said that the tax collector went away from his prayer having been made right with God.
It is crucial to be transparent in your prayers.
Transparency is critical in any relationship. Jesus told his disciples that the tax collector went home justified–but the Pharisee who prayed so proudly did not. When we pray to God, we need to be humble and transparent rather than praying “with ourselves.”
In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus gave a model prayer.
We call it the Lord’s Prayer. It goes like this:
“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”
This model prayer contains several key elements of effective, Secret-Service-style prayer:
- It shows intimacy with the Father.
- It acknowledges God’s sovereignty.
- It petitions God for our daily needs.
- It gives conditions for our motives; and
- It praises God for Who He is.
All of these are imperative elements of godly prayer.
While He was teaching us about prayer, Jesus made one more statement regarding our prayer life.
He said, “When you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” Again, we see here that things done in secret service to God will bring us rewards out in the open–rewards that everyone can see.
The last secret area is “when we fast.” Fasting is refraining from food, or from certain foods, for a spiritual purpose. Jesus was very straightforward about fasting, saying:
“When you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly” (Matthew 6:16-18).
In other words, don’t parade around looking pitiful while you are fasting. Wash your face, brush your hair, put on makeup (or shave, if you’re a man), and look presentable.
Fasting can give your prayers a cutting edge.
There are some things that only happen through fasting and praying (see Matthew 17:20-21). As you fast, the clutter clears from your mind, body, and spirit. Fasting can break curses, stop attacks, and open unprecedented blessings on you.
The Bible is full of examples and exploits done while fasting. I have a testimony too.
On a certain occasion, my husband Jamie and I were praying and fasting for a breakthrough in our ministry. We had committed to praying all night and fasting during the hours that we prayed. We had also committed to fasting during the week leading up to the all-night fast, which was two times a month.
This commitment went on for several weeks and months as we asked God to honor His word in Isaiah 22:22, “I will open doors that no man can shut, and I will shut doors that no man can open.” We kept declaring, decreeing, and believing.
During this time, we were also preparing for our one week of summer vacation. We left for vacation and were in the middle of our vacation week when our phone rang. Let me just tell you, the floodgates opened wide and they have not closed since. God hears and answers prayer, and He rewards fasting!
In all three of these secret service areas, Jesus expects activity from His saints.
Remember He says “when” you give, pray, and fast–not “if.” Also, in all three areas of private discipline, He promises public rewards. This is not so that we can gloat, but it will provide occasions to give thanks.
Also, when we give, pray, and fast, and God rewards us publicly, we will be a witness to the world of our faithful Father.
The day and hour in which we live call for all of God’s people to be involved.
So, let’s go behind the scenes. Let’s begin to give, pray, and fast as never before. Our future, our world, our children, and our very lives depend upon these three areas. Let it be that we go forth as God’s Secret Service!
Is God calling you to a higher place of giving, praying, or fasting? If so, leave a comment below and tell me what the Lord is speaking to you!