Start in Private



If nobody sees it, does it matter? Is it real?

We live in an era of publicly-groomed lives. We carefully manage the image we reveal to the world. We photoshop our portraits; we filter our Instagram pics; we tidy up our Facebook posts.

But what are we really like behind the face we put out into the world? Who are we in private?

We often undervalue the importance of our private practices.

  • If we won’t get public applause, do we want to do it?
  • If there is no outward reward, do we exercise self-discipline?
  • If we lack the desire to do it alone, do we forget it altogether?

What we often forget is this:

The outside stuff—the stuff that people see—is a direct result of our inner stuff.

What we think about and what we do and what we value when we’re alone will be reflected to the outside world when we’re together.

“And just as our bodies need daily refreshing, so do our souls.”
– Richard Rogers

Private Disciplines

Think about it spiritual terms. That’s what Rogers does in Holy Helps for a Godly Life. This week’s readings, chapters 4-6, begin focusing on the private spiritual disciplines as opposed to the public disciplines addressed in chapters 1-3.

“Therefore, without the private helps, the public are less profitable. For example, coming to church (the only way many know of serving God) cannot do that good to the best Christians which is to be looked for, if it is not accompanied with the private helps.”

To devote time to praying in private or meditating on truth, we first have to wake up to its value. Without a sense of its worth, we won’t do it.

Once we realize the importance of private practices, the more likely we’ll be to do them.

Make It Easier

Rogers suggests we can improve our private practices by making them easier.

  • Set a time for your meditation.
  • Read scripture or other spiritual books to prompt your thoughts.
  • Pray about real things happening right in front of you.

Outward improvement begins from the inside. When we take care of the inner self, our outward self will show it.

“Holy meditation on our estate and on God’s bounty toward us frames us after God’s image. And this works great things in our hearts.”

When we invest ourselves in God in our private world, we’re more apt to notice his grace in our public world. We’re then better equipped to help others and to spread peace.

If we want to better love others in public ways, let’s begin in private.

* * *

Do you have a favorite spiritual discipline you do in private? How does it prepare you for public service? Please share in the comments.

Tim Challies is walking us through this Puritan book, Holy Helps for a Godly Life, a few chapters each week. Read about it on his blog and on his Facebook page.

22 thoughts on “Start in Private

  1. Lois Flowers

    This is a great point, Lisa: “When we invest ourselves in God in our private world, we’re more apt to notice his grace in our public world. ” What we put into our minds colors how we see everything, doesn’t it? I don’t know if this is a discipline, exactly, but I read the Bible and pray in the early morning, before I check email or log onto anything online. On the days that I don’t do this, I really notice it in how I think and feel. Hope all is well with you so far this summer!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I think your practice is definitely a discipline, Lois! I’ve gotten out of the habit lately of reading first thing in the morning so your comment encourages me to start that back up again. Thanks for sharing this. Hope you’re having a wonderful summer as well; I can’t believe it’s already mid-June!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Yes! Scripture memorization is one of my favorite spiritual disciplines. It definitely helps distract my mind away from the million crazy thoughts I have during the day and back on Jesus.

  2. Sarah

    I do think social media has changed our thoughts on this. Picture, or it didn’t happen! We all need to first be grounded in Jesus and let that be what shows!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Amen, Sarah. Social media has definitely been a game changer, in some cases for better and other cases for worse. 🙁 It’s up to us to determine which.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Good point, Andrew. Discipline is even more critical when the gold stars and public incentives are removed.

      No, I haven’t ever read “When No One Sees” but I’ll definitely go look it up right now. Thanks.

  3. Lynn D. Morrissey

    Excellent post, Lisa. Yes, what we do in private (and our character forged there) counts! If we can’t be trusted in private, when no one is looking, we can’t be trusted. I have found daily Bible reading/meditation/application and journaling to be invaluable ways of connecting with God, both to hear from Him and to converse with Him. I love to sing too (mostly classical songs with Scriptural works, like Bach and Handel). 😉

    Thanks for a rich read

  4. Jean Wise

    Inspirational. I think not only set a time for meditation but a timer also. LOL. Sometimes I think about all the people I pray for regularly that have no idea I am praying for them and wonder …. but then I remember to be obedient and do pray. I know it makes a difference but sometimes private is lonely and unappreciated too. Interesting post, Lisa!!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Oh yes, a timer is a definite must for me as well for meditation. 😉 I love the Insight timer. Although I don’t always use it when I’m laying in bed to meditate, I almost always use it during the daytime. (I also like that it keeps track of my progress through the years, for better or worse.)

  5. Nicole Kauffman

    I love this! In a culture where people want to be praised for everything, including myself, it’s so hard to remember that we are working for God above all else and that He sees our heart. Great reminder to take time in private!

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      Thanks, Nicole. I too often fall into the trap of wanting appreciation for things I’ve done, but long ago I discovered that it doesn’t often come in human form. 😉 Yes, so thankful that ultimately we do what we do for God above all!

  6. floyd samons

    This is great.

    The time spent alone with our Father changes us into a better version of human. We’re not perfect, but we begin to show less and less of the instinctual side of our flesh.

    That time is the best time to bring peace and spiritual rest.

    Thanks for the reminder. It’s needed.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I need these reminders often myself, Floyd. It’s sometimes easier to show up for the public disciplines and skimp on the private ones. But they each have value to keep our souls refreshed and aware of God’s will for us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *