Series: Intimacy with God through Journaling in the Secret Place
Preparation for Journaling in the Secret Place with the Lord
Journaling your spiritual journey with Christ in the secret place can be daunting if you are just starting to do it. I have lots of journals with a few good months of entries, consistency, then sometimes months of nothing. I always had the greatest of intentions. Can you relate?
It can be tough to document different things over a long-term basis in your spiritual life diligently. Basically, (shortcut here) there is no wrong way to journal. It is as unique as you are and your spiritual gifts. If the Holy Spirit directs you to journal differently than what we talk about here, then, by all means, do that! This, my beautiful friends, was step one to intimacy with Him for me. He Himself asked me to begin sharing it with you. If intimacy with God is something you are looking to cultivate in your life, then stay close. We will discuss what the secret place is, why it’s important, and preparation before starting to journal. This is the first in the series of cultivating intimacy with the Lord in the Secret Place. Get ready to produce fruit, Beloved, we are digging right in.
What is the Secret Place?
The secret place has many definitions, but my favorite way to describe it is a time I get to relax, unload & refuel with God. I lay down all the worries and concerns that I have, relax and receive refreshment and direction from the Lord. Matthew 11:28-30AMP describes this time perfectly in my opinion:
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation]. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me [following Me as My disciple], for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest (renewal, blessed quiet) for your souls. 30 For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.”Matthew 11:28-30
These were the words of our Beloved Savior. He had a few things to say about this time for us, didn’t He? This scripture mentions rest. Rest implies quiet and secret to me. Jesus always had a definite time to sit down and lay down burdens. It was definitely high on His list while He graced the earth. Jesus was often seen in lonely places praying to the Father. There are other scriptures that mention the ‘Secret Place’ too, such as Matthew 6:6:
But when you pray, go into your most private room, close the door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees [what is done] in secret will reward you. AMPMatthew 6:6
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].Psalm 91:1
The word, ‘shelter’ in Hebrew means ‘haven’ or ‘asylum’. Sounds like the Secret place to me!
For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.Psalm 27:5
You are a hiding place for me; you preserve me from trouble; you surround me with shouts of deliverance. SelahPsalm 32:7
Why is Secret Place Time Important?
If you did not feel like getting in the secret place from my brief description above, and truly want to know why it’s important, let me tell you. As a believer, you know that based on John 15:5 AMP, we aren’t the vine, we are only the branches:
I am the Vine; you are the branches. The one who remains in Me and I in him bears much fruit, for [otherwise] apart from Me [that is, cut off from vital union with Me] you can do nothing.John 15:5
Separated from the Vine (Jesus Christ), we cannot do anything! It’s only His all sufficiency as the True Vine, that keeps us–the branches– fueled, nourished, alive, full of power and ability. To have this, we must remain connected to Him. That is what the Secret Place is all about. It is our time as believers to meet with our Mighty King and Precious Friend. He is the greatest friend you will ever know. Spending time with Him, praying for yourself, others, listening to the Holy Spirit, and reading His word, will help wash off the influence of the world. It will also direct you, change you, and help you change the world. It also gives you a chance to lay down your yoke for His. In case you didn’t get that from earlier, it’s a light one!
Yes, You can Hear the Voice of the Holy Spirit
Before I go further, I want to mention a word about hearing the voice of the Lord. There are things we should be doing in the Secret Place, and one of them is listening to the Holy Spirit. It just so happens that this is one of the most important things to do in the Secret Place. What’s that? You can’t hear His voice? Yes, you can, if you are a believer. The Bible says in John 10:27 AMP:
“The sheep that are My own hear My voice and listen to Me; I know them, and they follow Me”.
The more you try to listen–and even if you don’t hear right away–but continue to try, you will hear His voice. As you read the Word of God and listen to the Holy Spirit’s leading on what the verse means, you are actually training yourself to hear Him. You are training your heart to hear His words by learning the ‘sound of it’ through the Word of God. This makes sense, because that is exactly what sheep do when they learn their Shepherd’s voice. They hear him all the time, and so much so, that if someone else comes along to take them away, they won’t go with them because they know their shepherd’s voice! That’s you and I, my friend. Let’s lean in, be persistent, and learn the voice of our Shepherd! We already know it, we just need to practice hearing it.
What Kinds of Things Should we do in the Secret Place?
There are several things we should be doing in the Secret Place. Some will be done more than others. The important thing to remember is to be Holy Spirit led. The most important things are to pray, read the Bible, and listen to the Holy Spirit. If He has you listen to Him and pray most of the time, then do it! It’s not sticking to a checklist, it’s being available to Him and listening. Here are a few other ideas to add to praying, reading the Bible, and listening to the Holy Spirit:
- Praying in your prayer language and or praying: If you have not been baptized in the Holy Spirit and received your prayer language, don’t despair. This is an extension of your regular prayer time, and is for those who do have a prayer language. It’s a form of spiritual warfare, because the enemy does not know what you are saying. Your prayer is going straight to the Father, and He knows what you are calling forth into the natural realm. You are also building up your spirit man when you engage in it. It also stirs up your spirit man and activates the Holy Spirit within you. If you desire it, all you need to do is ask the Father for it, who always gives good gifts to His children. You can receive it by faith.
- Spiritual Warfare. This is also another extension of your prayer time. Taking authority over the enemy within your scope of influence is something that is lesser known to many Christians. We should be engaging in it regularly as we intercede for others. We can destroy enemy tactics and call forth what the scriptures say to call forth! If you are unsure how to do this, I encourage you to check out Ephesians 6 to find out its importance. There are numerous books out there with excellent guidance on how this is done.
- Meditate on Scripture. This is an extension of your Bible reading. You can do this during Secret Place time or at separate Bible study times. Meditating on the scriptures is just another way of consuming them or “chewing” on them. It gives the Holy Spirit time to speak to your heart. It is a great time to look up alternative meanings for words you may already know, such as Hebrew or Greek meanings for common words used in scripture. This can sometimes put an entirely different spin on scripture meaning altogether.
- Declarations. Declarations declare or decree things into the spiritual realm. The Bible says death and life are in the power of the tongue. (Proverbs 18:21). God spoke the world into existence, and we are His children. You have power in your mouth to create and destroy! What you declare, based on the scriptures, has power and can put angels on assignment, pull down dark plans, bring God’s purposes and plans into existence, and tear down strongholds. Job 22:28 states this: “You will also decide and decree a thing, and it will be established for you; And the light [of God’s favor] will shine upon your ways.” It’s a sure-fire way for God’s favor, as long as we use scripture as our guideline.
- Encounters. This is for those who have encounters with Jesus or any person of the Trinity, along with angelic encounters. When the Holy Spirit is your guide, no one can rule out this for them. Maybe it won’t happen in your Secret Place time, but one day it might. Prayer can call the angelic. Lining up your words with God’s words puts the angelic on assignment. If this has never happened to you, don’t rule it out. As you stay in a place of discipline and faith, anything is possible!
- Worship. The Lord inhabits our praise. As you praise Him and lift high His Name, He is there! I like to do this before I plan to sit with Him as a way to invite His Presence with me. He cannot resist it. You can do it in words to Him or in song, as long as your heart and mind are as one. Tell Him how you feel about Him and what He means to you. The more personal you get with Him and then remember His greatness within it, the better.
Now That You Know
Now that you know what the Secret Place is, why it’s important, and what types of things you would want to do there, let’s talk about journaling. We will discuss various ways to journal in another post, but for now, let’s discuss what types of things you will want to include when you do journal. Just discussing this together can help you determine what style of journaling you prefer and how you will want to set your journal up. Let’s discuss the types of things that you will want to include.
What Things Will I Want to Include When I Journal?
When you journal, you will want to document everything you learn, see, feel, and experience. Here are some ideas to get you and your spiritual gifts inspired:
- Scriptures that Spoke to You. This may include what you learned through meditating on a verse or series of verses, or what the Holy Spirit directs you to. You will definitely want to write it down to review later, or sometimes, He wants you to look it up then. Write it down and everything He taught you about it.
- Impressions. Depending on what your spiritual gifts are, you may be directed through impressions more than verbal cues from the Holy Spirit. Write down any impressions you feel with a certain situation you may be praying about, and any directions you may be feeling as a result. This will be helpful later, as you see prayers answered regarding it. It may be a confirmation to you that the Holy Spirit was speaking to you. You will have a track record to reassure you with these impressions, as you are able to look back and see (and now trust) that the Holy Spirit was speaking to you all along about a situation.
- Spiritual Experiences/Encounters. We discussed this in one of the previous sections, but in this section I want to explain a little bit more. These types of experiences won’t happen for everyone, and that’s okay. As God’s children, though, we shouldn’t shun them or be afraid of them. Sometimes, you will see or experience things in your time with the Lord that you simply cannot explain. Write it down. It may not make any sense to you now, but as you are faithful to document, He will be faithful to help you learn from these experiences. God will see you are faithful in documenting it, and will give you more encounters! Sometimes, the answers won’t come regarding the what until later. If you have it written down, you can come back to it (when you do know or received revelation on it) and see what God meant for it. I journal in such a way that I encounter Jesus. Jesus Himself told me I was encountering Him, although I thought it was just me making up a scenario. However, I didn’t believe Him until what I encountered with Him would sometimes occur in reality. I will walk you through my technique in this series, so stay tuned! It may not be for you, but trying it from time to time may be what you need to kick start a dry spiritual life.
- Dreams/Visions. Everyone dreams, but not everyone writes them down. Your dreams have meaning, and sometimes the Holy Spirit warns us in dreams. I have found it important to write down my dreams from a prayer perspective, so I can pray into them. Reading the word of God and prayer can sometimes cause you to have visions. Write those down. More revelation may come later as you pray into it.
- Prayer list/Answered prayer list. This is a very important thing to have in the secret place. As we are faithful to pray, we will see God answer. This encourages our faith to persist. Sometimes in prayer, individuals might see vision or little pictures. Write them down along with the situation or the person’s name you were praying for. It may be clues into how to pray for someone, or communication from the Lord for affirmation purposes for you!
- Spontaneous ideas/creative ideas. I have found that after times of praise and worship, I will sometimes have creative ideas that are not my own, and ideas for drawings, paintings, or creations. (I am a creative type.) This may not always happen in your Secret Place time, but be aware of flowing, spontaneous thoughts, as these are usually thoughts from the Holy Spirit if you are engaged in worship.
- Things the Holy Spirit advised you to do and how your obedience played out. This is self-explanatory. It is so helpful to see a track record of how far you have come with the Lord! It is also an excellent faith builder!
- Reflecting Time with the Lord. This is time you build into your Secret Place time, where you just listen. Some people may call this ‘soaking’. I usually do mine after I pray or just whenever the Holy Spirit directs me to pause. I close my eyes and focus on Him, and allow Him to show me something or speak. I have known others to lie down and put on soft music and just wait to hear from Him. Sometimes I may hear a word or a phrase, and sometimes I might see something like a picture. I write it down. All these things can be prayed into with the Lord to see His heart for it. Sometimes, as you have prayed your prayer list, the Holy Spirit might have guidance for what to do about a situation. If we don’t pause and listen, we may miss His heart. My friends, that is the ENTIRE point of the Secret Place. Make sure you don’t forget this important part.
Ways I Have Used to Reduce Distractions
The first key to reducing distractions is simply getting into a closed space in seclusion. The Bible talks about a closet or an “inner door”. Some days, I would love nothing more than to hide in the closet! For the rest of us, the best thing to do is get into that secluded place and get up early. I fought this one for a while, but as we crucify the flesh in getting up earlier, it is a sweet fragrance before the Lord. He sees our sacrifice to hear Him, and it honors him. On top of a secluded place without distractions, and getting up earlier, here are a few more ideas:
- Use the toilet room. Sometimes I use this room when my secret place time has been interrupted quite a bit. I run for the bathroom with my journal and take 10 minutes when I need that extra quiet and privacy for prayer or listening.
- Put your cell phone on mute. This might be tough one for you if you use your phone a lot for work, but it is critical to reduce distractions via text, email, and notifications. If you know you need to have it but don’t want the distractions, put it on mute and keep it away from you, possibly on a soft surface so buzzing won’t get your attention.
- Use a To-do List. I use a note pad or write directly in my journal for this. It helps me when I remember that we need to get more eggs at the store to simply write it down instead of going online to put it on my online shopping list. Sometimes doing something like that gets us out of His Presence altogether. If you’re like me, that is simply too costly of a thing to chance missing for something so insignificant. It also eats up your time in the Secret Place.
- Use an I-pod. You may want to use some sort of sound to block out any noise in a room that isn’t perfectly quiet. I have once journaled in a room full of activity, with sounds in my ear of basically white noise! Using soft music without beat or without words can calm and soothe your spirit and allow you to hear the Spirit quite well. You may also like to use sounds of nature, such as waterfalls, crackling fires, and wind sounds. This may need to be done via phone on YouTube, so be mindful of that as well for distraction’s sake.
A Few Closing Suggestions
Journaling can be so rewarding to your spiritual life. It can help you learn the communication of heaven for you personally. Consistency is the key. If you hunger for God, this is a great way to fuel that hunger. You will be shocked to realize what things you may have forgotten when you document them, and then go back to review your entries. Every month, I try to go back and review them in case the Holy Spirit has taught me something since that particular journal entry. A lot of the time, the Holy Spirit Himself will direct me back to that symbol, event, or word He spoke to me. Where do I put that info then? Well, I go to a new entry and refer to a certain dated entry. Yes, you need to date all your entries. I highly recommend it.
I have found that an electronic journal is best for indexing things like dreams and specific experiences you might want to save for future revelation. There are a few apps out there that are great for this type of thing. One I use is UpNote, which has been such a game changer for my journaling experience. There are others, such as: GoodNotes, NoteShelf, and OneNote.
Here are a few more quick suggestions as you embark on this journey
- Be consistent, not legalistic. Don’t hold yourself to a standard so high that you cannot keep it up. If you need to start only a few of these suggestions to get started, do so. As you go along, you will see what works for you, what you need to add for your specific needs, and what you can scrap. Just keep going. Keep writing every day. It doesn’t need perfection, just consistency. Your future self will thank you for it. Your journal will be a wealth of information you didn’t even remember you had! Documentation will keep all those experiences safely tucked away to learn from later if necessary, or for a testimony you didn’t even know you now have!
- If you are a scheduler type, and need to keep yourself accountable, make a date and time on your calendar each day to meet the Lord. Maybe it has to be rotating. That’s okay, at least you are being consistent.
- Let family members know what you are doing. In this way, they can help you have a disruption free zone for a while.
Lastly, one of the most important things I’ve learned on my journaling journey was to work toward (If I’m not already there) having no walls of protection around my heart with the Lord. He knows it all already. Ask Him to help you with any walls that you may have built around your heart. This will help you hear Him better. Walls built to protect our hearts will protect us, but it will also keep out His love and sometimes His words of wisdom that we so desperately want to hear. Check your heart and do a self-examination with the Holy Spirit. See if there’s anything keeping you from hearing Him. If you aren’t sure, ask Him. The Holy Spirit is your friend and will be happy to help you with that request. That is simply one of the many jobs He lovingly does for us.
I can assure you that as you journal, and your heart is bare before Him, He will respond. As I heard Him tell me once in one of my journaling sessions before, He said, “Sharla, your heart got you everywhere.” He responds to our hearts. Make sure your heart isn’t a barricaded one. He needs free access to it. Ask for a soft heart instead of a stony one. May your journey into journaling begin in much excitement and expectation! Stay tuned for the next in this series.
To learn more about cultivating time in the Secret Place click here.
See this post for more on why the Secret Place is so important to your soul.