“Is it wrong to tell people about the ministry I do?” A friend recently asked in reference to this passage:
“But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:3-4
“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 6:6
“But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to others that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Matthew 6:17-18
We need both. Praying in secret and praying with others. Giving in secret and giving openly. Fasting in secret and fasting corporately.
Secret times with God need to be the priority.
Times when we give Him praise for His ears only are essential. I love to let praise flow from my heart. Yielding as His Spirit moves, making up tunes, singing and letting His word inspire me and fill me with thanksgiving and praise. He is pleased because He wants a love relationship with me. He desires secret times with us where we find joy in His presence. He wants us to talk to Him, giving Him thanks and telling Him our needs. He wants us to listen as He speaks to our hearts.
He is also pleased when we raise our voices together to praise Him. Praying together builds our faith and is powerful. I meet with a couple of friends regularly to pray and we have seen many answered prayers over the years!
“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” Matthew 18:19-20 (NIV)
When we have our time with Him alone first, we then have stronger faith to pray and praise together. We need to pray with others to encourage each other in faith.
Our Father wants us to give in secret and openly. He wants me to give things that are between Him and me. Giving in secret helps me to give with a pure motive and to avoid the temptation of pride. Giving openly blesses others and inspires them to give. (Read 2 Corinthians 8 and 9)
Fasting in secret is a sacrifice only God knows about that is an offering to Him and blesses Him. He also calls us to pray and fast as a church or group to build our faith and show our dependence on Him.
He looks at the motivation of our hearts. Are we practicing these disciplines in order to look good or because we genuinely care and want to honor Him? Whatever we do, the motive matters. God wants a secret relationship with me so that He can give me what I need to then share with others in the right spirit.
So we praise when we are alone and when we are with others.
We give in secret and give as an example to encourage others.
We pray by ourselves and with others to His glory.
We fast in secret and fast together for a united purpose.
If we only offer theses acts of worship in secret, we miss the opportunity to encourage, inspire and bless others and to give Him glory.
If we only do them in public, we miss the reward that comes from having a secret time with the LORD and may fall into the trap of doing them for show.
We need time alone with our Father. When I contemplate that our Creator, our All-Mighty Holy God, the Great I Am wants a personal relationship with me, a sinner, (made possible by Jesus) why wouldn’t time with Him be my top priority? And spending time with Him motivates me to pray, give and worship with others.
Whether we offer these acts of worship in secret to Him or with others to His glory, what better way could we spend our time?
Originally published at Internet Cafe Devotions