by Bob Sorge

When you’re desperate for God, you become dependent upon the daily sustaining power of His Word. Your source of survival is your daily manna—feeding on the Word of God. We know the manna of the wilderness was good for only one day; if kept over into the next day, it would rot (Exodus 16:12-31). It’s still true that yesterday’s feeding in the Word will never sustain us for today. Once of the primary functions of the secret place is to be fed afresh each day in His Word.

Proverbs 16:26 says, “The person who labors, labors for himself, for his hungry mouth drives him on.” It’s our hunger for the Word that drives us into the secret place. When we are hungry spiritually, we are energized to labor in the Word. A lack of hunger is a danger sign. When someone is sick, often the first symptom of their sickness is a loss of hunger. Those who lose their spiritual hunger need a medical exam, spiritually speaking. Is a cancerous sin destroying their spiritual vitality? What is true in the natural is also true in the spiritual. By drinking lots of water (the Holy Spirit), getting plenty of rest (ceasing from our own works), exercising ourselves in the Word, avoiding junk foods (lousy replacements), often our spiritual appetite can be restored. Spiritual hunger is absolutely essential to spiritual health because without it we won’t be motivated to feed on the manna of God’s Word.

It’s vitally important that each one of us learn how to collect manna for himself. Those who view the Sunday morning sermon as their source of nutrition are certain to be spiritual skeletons. God never intended that we live off the secret life of our pastor; He wants us to uncover the life giving thrill of feeding ourselves daily in His Word.

Once you learned to feed yourself in the Word, you are no longer upset when the Sunday sermon doesn’t apply to your life. You weren’t looking for the sermon to be your source of feeding and life anyways. If something in the sermon feeds you, you reckon it a bonus. You’re no longer dependent on others to give you milk because now you are cutting off your own meat.

Many Americans have misplaced expectations of what Sunday morning church is all about. They’re looking for a place to be taught in the Word, to be filled up, and a place for their kids to be taught and strengthened. But often they are expecting out of Sunday morning church what God intended for them to get in the secret place and at the family altar. (By “family altar: I am referring to parents sitting down daily with their children to instruct them in the Word and pray together, according to the commandment of Scripture.) When we place higher expectations upon Sunday morning church than it can sustain, we can easily become critical or even cynical toward the body of Christ (a disease which can be terminal and is highly infectious, especially with our children).

It’s not that difficult to learn how to gather manna. Just get out there and start working. Pick up your Bible, and begin to labor in it. At first you will feel clumsy, but keep persevering. The more you labor in the Word, the more adept you’ll become at gathering the daily portion that will satisfy your soul. You learn to gather by getting out in the field and just doing it.

As you persevere, you will discover that the Lord designed the secret place to satisfy your heart in at least three ways:

Feeding In The Word

Of the godly it is said, “But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall proper” (Psalm 1:2-3). As we meditate and feed in the Word of God, we are like trees that produce fruit because we have nutrients flowing into us.

Drinking In The Spirit

Jesus said, “’But whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.’” (John 4:14). The Holy Spirit is like the water that helps us swallow the manna of the Word. Feeding in the Word must always be complemented with drinking of the Spirit.

Cultivating A Knowing Relationship With God

Hebrews 8:11 quotes the Old Testament, “’None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, “Know the LORD,” for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them.’” God wants to lead you into a hidden place in Him where you develop your own unique connection with Him, and you come to know Him totally independently of everyone else. He wants you to develop your own secret history of communing with Him and knowing Him. No man is to teach you how to find this knowing relationship with God; the Holy Spirit Himself will be your teacher. All you must do is shut your door.

Oh, the awesome depths of communion that we can find in the secret place—not to mention the ingesting of delightsome spirit food! When we properly find these things in the secret place and lead our families in these things, then Sunday morning gatherings can fulfill their proper role in our lives: a place where God is glorified and ministered to, a place where we can encourage and support others, a place where the vision for our collective body is articulated, a place where our unity is built, a place of corporate prayer, a place where the young and weak are strengthened and encouraged, and a place where seekers can come to Christ.

Just one more quick thought. I remember the days when I, as a pastor, would glean the Word daily for potential sermon material. I was always looking for truths that would feed my congregation. But then the Lord arrested me and changed how I come to the Word. Now, I read the Bible just for me. I’m so hungry for Him that every day I must be sustained by fresh manna from the Word. I don’t get my manna for the day, I get a little bit on the cranky side. So now I gather manna just for me. But here’s what I’ve found: When I share with others the manna that has nurtured me, it feeds them as well! In fact, I’ve discovered that others appear much more fed when I shared with them that which first sustained me. The secret is: Learn to gather your own manna. Then you’ll have something to share.

Used by permission, from the book Secrets of the Secret Place by Bob Sorge.
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