Redefining Rest: Retreating to the Secret Place

In taking a look at rest this month, some of you may shake your heads and sigh with heavy hearts. You may be burdened with all the normal responsibilities of life while the holidays pile more onto your plate. Maybe it’s time we learn to retreat to the secret place instead of pressing forward.

I want to encourage you and tell you I feel it too. I’m busy. I’m overwhelmed. Despite these things, I’m learning to pursue rest. Learning to retreat into the secret place is a strategy I want to tell you about.

Making Time, Not Excuses

Susanna Wesley, mother of John and Charles Wesley and wife to a minister, had a total of ten children who survived past infancy. She lost nine others as babies. An incredible woman of God, she found a way to get into a secret place with the Lord despite a houseful of children.

This devoted woman insisted on making time with God a priority. But how? According to an article by Faith Gateway, “Mother Wesley’s solution to this was to bring her Bible to her favorite chair and throw her long apron up over her head, forming a sort of tent. This became something akin to the “tent of meeting,” the tabernacle in the days of Moses in the Old Testament. Every person in the household, from the smallest toddler to the oldest domestic helpers, knew well to respect this signal.”

Even in the midst of the chaotic life of a minister’s wife, with many children to care for, Wesley understood that she needed to be strengthened in the spirit by a time of peace and prayer. You can read more about this amazing woman’s life HERE.

If Wesley could do it, so can we. It’s a matter of purposing to capture small moments, or longer periods, as habit. Jesus demonstrated this for us.

Follow Jesus’ Lead

Jesus’ public ministry was a grueling challenge. He traveled on foot, spent a lot of time outside in the elements, and had to rely on the kindness of strangers for meals and shelter. The weight of his mission hung about His shoulders, an immense load to bear. He knew His ministry was to end in death.

The demands for Jesus’ attention and presence were overwhelming. Sick people craved healing. Lost people craved forgiveness. Some people wanted to engage in disputes with Him. It must have been exhausting.

Somehow He made time to engage with others without rushing. His approach to people was a measured, deliberate one in which He gave of Himself and didn’t hurry the conversation along.

Despite the demands on Him, Jesus understood the importance of restorative prayer and silence. The constant pouring out of His teaching and healing the masses drained even the Savior of the world. Jesus knew the power of the secret place.

Jesus’ approach to rest was an opportunistic one. He rose early before others. He slipped away after completing a teaching. He prayed in the evening as the day’s work came to a close. At any chance He could, Jesus made time to rest and commune with His Heavenly Father.

Here are some examples of what I mean.

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed.

Mark 1: 35 (First thing in the morning)

Immediately Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.

Mark 6:45-46 (Right after feeding the 5,000)

 Yet the news about him spread all the more so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.

Luke 5:15-16 (After healing a leper)

A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat so that it was nearly swamped.  Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?”

Mark 4:37-38 (Napping in the middle of a storm)

Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane, and he said to them, “Sit here while I go over there and pray.” 

Matthew 26:36 (Garden of Gethsemane on the night of His betrayal)

These examples demonstrate Jesus’ understanding of the importance of taking time in the secret place to draw strength. How much more do our weary mortal hearts need this rest and renewal?

Finding Your Secret Place

Finding that secret, sacred place may be tricky for some of us. However, if we think about it, it is possible. The Bible impresses upon believers the importance of getting away and alone with God.


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

I happen to be blessed and have my own little space in a tiny back bedroom of my house. I call it the Prayer Lair. However, you don’t need a special “Mom-Only” room. How about some of these?

IN THE CAR – Are you ever in the car alone on the drive to work or to run errands? This is a great time to pray and worship. Turn the radio on to pray and seek God. Crank it up to worship as you drive wherever you’re going.

IN THE BATHROOM – For truly maxed-out moms, even the bathroom is not sanctuary sometimes. But in the shower, you can take a bit of time to pray and be still before God. Lock the door if you need to.

EARLY MORNINGS – If you can, make it a point to rise early, even half an hour before your family. This way, you can go anywhere you like in the house and sip a cup of coffee while you start your day off with God.

ON THE TREADMILL (or SIDEWALK) – Why not listen to worship music at the gym or take a short walk in the stillness of the early morning or early evening?

No matter the physical location you choose, the secret place is really an attitude and state of mind. Making the choice to seek God by slipping away by yourself, however briefly, will bring refreshment and renewal. It’s rest for the soul.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE: Pursuing Faithfulness in the Little Things and Battling Back to School Madness: Get Refreshed

Hi! I’m Tracy…Christ-follower, wife, mama, writer, blogger, speaker, teacher, dreamer. I love Earl Grey Tea and quiet mornings. Here at Earl Grey and Yellow, the focus is striving to be faithful and appreciate the small things. So glad you stopped by. Please have a look around and subscribe to our newsletter and social media to stay connected.

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