"Steal Away And Tarry" - March 2012
There is an old hymn entitled, “I Just Steal Away”. It talks about getting alone in a quiet place to pray. Here is the first verse and the chorus. “Ev'ry time I do a deed I shouldn't do, Ev'ry time I say a word I shouldn't say; Let me tell you what I do and it brings a blessing, too, I just steal away somewhere and pray. CHORUS: I just steal away, (steal away and pray) I just steal away, (steal away and pray) And I ask my blessed Lord to lead the way; I just steal away, (steal away and pray) I just steal away, (steal away and pray) I just steal away somewhere and pray.
The term “steal away” is an old-fashioned term that has been used by Christians in past generations. They use it when they are talking about getting alone with God somewhere in prayer. Another old-fashioned term used in Christianity is “tarry”- it means to be still and wait unhurried in the Lord’s presence until you hear from Him about a matter. Both of these terms seem so foreign to most professing Christians but are powerful keys to the victorious Christian life and knowing the will of God. There is a power that is gained when we learn how to and put into practice both “stealing away” and “tarrying” in our lives.
One of the greatest evangelist in modern day Christianity was Smith Wigglesworth. His ministry covered the early and mid 1900’s. He is well-known because of the healings and miracles that flowed from his life. It is recorded that twenty-three people were raised from the dead in total through the years of his ministry. In his book, The Secret of His Power, (pg. 53), he shared the secret to the power that he walked in this way, "When I catch the first breath of the Spirit, I leave everything and everybody to be in His presence, to hear what He has to say to me." In other words, he would “steal away” and “tarry” until he had meet with the Lord and knew what God wanted to say to him. This practice was what kept Him in unbroken fellowship with the Lord and made him so powerful.
This type of life and power is not restricted to only a “chosen few”. We all want to live a victorious Christian life. We all want the manifestation of the power of God flowing through our lives. We all want to see miracles and healing happen when we pray for others. We all want to dwell in continual communion with the Lord. We all want to see revival, in our nation, our churches and in our individual lives. And it is possible. It is available to all who are born again children of God. The key is to “steal away” and “tarry”. Let’s look into the Bible and see what it has to say on the subject, and the power that comes from applying these keys to our lives.
Although we are using old-fashioned terminology, stealing away and tarrying simply means to seek the Lord and keep seeking Him until we have found Him and heard from Him, and have an assurance that He has heard us. It is the same thing the woman with the issue of blood did- only in regard to prayer. She pressed and kept pressing until she touched Jesus and received her desire- healing. “And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any, came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched.” (Luke 8:43,44) She didn’t let anything distract her, or hinder her, or stop her until something from God happened in her life. That is what stealing away and tarrying is about-- holding steady and keep pressing in prayer until you have touched the Lord. Some of the synonyms for steal away are: slip away, sneak away, sneak off. When we use the term “steal away”, as we have already said we are talking about getting to a place where we can be alone with God. Jesus, our great example did this often. “And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Luke 6:12) “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35) Jesus was always leaving the crowds to go to a place where He could commune with His Father alone. In John, chapter eleven, we read the story about Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. When Jesus got to the tomb of Lazarus He spoke these words, “Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.” (John 11:41-44) What stood out to me was Jesus’ words, “Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.” When did the Father hear Him? When did He hear from the Father? There is no recorded prayer mentioned here. Through some of the other verses above we have already established the fact that it was Jesus continual practice to get alone with the Father in prayer. It was during that time that He and the Father had a conversation about Lazarus. This is why Jesus waited four days to go to Lazarus instead of going when He first got the news of his illness. Remember Jesus told us that He only does what He sees the Father do and says what He hears His Father say. “Then answered Jesus and said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth him all things that himself doeth: and he will shew him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.” (John 5:19,20,30) Jesus never moved ahead or behind of God’s will and plan. Why? Because He got alone in the presence of God through prayer and stayed there until He knew God’s will and then He moved accordingly. If we want to be in the center of God’s will and not lag behind or run ahead of it, Jesus left us the key by which we can achieve it, as well as the example to follow-- “steal away” and “tarry”.
Not only did Jesus teach us by example to seek the Lord, He taught us to do it. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33) Jesus taught us that the key to receiving “all these things” was to seek God first. Not last, not after you have exhausted every other resource, not after your own plan failed, not after you got everyone else’s advice, but first- and first means first. That isn’t what He did.
Not seeking Him, but seeking others and other things first ahead of Him, is serious business to Him. “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.” (2 Chronicles 16:12) There is a reason why the words, “yet in his disease he sought not the Lord, but to the physicians”, were added. Was it because it is a sin or wrong to go to a doctor? No. Let’s go back to the previous chapters and read. “So Abijah slept with his fathers, and they buried him in the city of David: and Asa his son reigned in his stead. In his days the land was quiet ten years. And Asa did that which was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God: For he took away the altars of the strange gods, and the high places, and brake down the images, and cut down the groves: And commanded Judah to seek the LORD God of their fathers, and to do the law and the commandment. Also he took away out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the images: and the kingdom was quiet before him. And he built fenced cities in Judah: for the land had rest, and he had no war in those years; because the LORD had given him rest. Therefore he said unto Judah, Let us build these cities, and make about them walls, and towers, gates, and bars, while the land is yet before us; because we have sought the LORD our God, we have sought him, and he hath given us rest on every side. So they built and prospered. And the Spirit of God came upon Azariah the son of Oded: And he went out to meet Asa, and said unto him, Hear ye me, Asa, and all Judah and Benjamin; The LORD is with you, while ye be with him; and if ye seek him, he will be found of you; but if ye forsake him, he will forsake you. And when Asa heard these words, and the prophecy of Oded the prophet, he took courage, and put away the abominable idols out of all the land of Judah and Benjamin, and out of the cities which he had taken from mount Ephraim, and renewed the altar of the LORD, that was before the porch of the LORD. And they entered into a covenant to seek the LORD God of their fathers with all their heart and with all their soul; that whosoever would not seek the LORD God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman. And they sware unto the LORD with a loud voice, and with shouting, and with trumpets, and with cornets. And all Judah rejoiced at the oath: for they had sworn with all their heart, and sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the LORD gave them rest round about. In the six and thirtieth year of the reign of Asa Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah, and built Ramah, to the intent that he might let none go out or come in to Asa king of Judah. Then Asa brought out silver and gold out of the treasures of the house of the LORD and of the king's house, and sent to Benhadad king of Syria, that dwelt at Damascus, saying, There is a league between me and thee, as there was between my father and thy father: behold, I have sent thee silver and gold; go, break thy league with Baasha king of Israel, that he may depart from me. And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” (2 Chronicles 14:1-7; 15:1,2,8,12-15; 16:1-3,7-9) King Asa had sought the Lord and the Lord gave him guidance and direction concerning the battle against the enemy. When he sought the Lord, the Lord also destroyed the enemy. The Lord sent a prophet to the king and gave him a promise that if he would seek the Lord, He would be found. He also gave him a warning- if you forsake Him, He would forsake you. As a result, the king and all the people entered into a covenant to seek the Lord and all who would not seek the Lord should be put to death. King Asa broke the covenant by not seeking God in two matters. First, he sought protection from the king of Syria instead of relying on the Lord when the king of Israel came up against them. Secondly, he sought out the doctors instead of the Lord when he developed a disease in his feet. So, again, it wasn’t necessarily because he went to the physicians, it was because he sought them out first for help and neglected seeking God’s help after he had made a covenant to seek God with all his heart and soul.
There is a “good side” to this story. Earlier I said that we all want to see revival in our nation, our churches and our individual lives. In chapter fifteen, because they sought the Lord with all their heart and soul and heeded what He said, revival broke out in the land. This is how revival begins. It first starts when an individual, a church, a group or a nation will seek the Lord. When I talk about “seeking the Lord”, I mean “steal away” and “tarry”. I am not talking about what we normally define as seeking. Our definition of seeking is a ten minute prayer where we present God with our wish list and then we are up and off to something else. You may have prayed, but you haven’t “sought” the Lord. When you look up the word “sought” in the Hebrew, it doesn’t mean to just spend a couple of minutes presenting your needs before the Lord. It comes from a word that means to: tread a place with the feet; to frequent; to inquire, to consult. Behind my house we have a wooded area where we like to go ATV riding. There is a beaten down path that is easily seen because we frequently ride on it, we don’t make a pass through it once and a while, we do it often. This is what it means to seek the Lord- beat down a path to God through your frequent and continued time there. Go to Him often. Stay there for a while- long enough to know that you have heard from Him. On the subject of revival, all the great revivals of all times began as people sought the Lord and tarried in their seeking. “And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” (Luke 24:49) “Then returned they unto Jerusalem from the mount called Olivet, which is from Jerusalem a sabbath day's journey. And when they were come in, they went up into an upper room, where abode both Peter, and James, and John, and Andrew, Philip, and Thomas, Bartholomew, and Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, and Simon Zelotes, and Judas the brother of James. These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.” (Acts 1:12-14) As these 120 were tarrying together seeking the Lord, the Holy Spirit was poured out upon them in the Upper Room. That same day three thousand souls were saved, the church was born, a revival broke out, and these few turned their world upside down for Christ.
The revival that we so desperately need and want comes through seeking the Lord-- stealing away to a “closet place” to seek Him and “tarrying” there until we find Him. “But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:6)
Do you desire a personal revival in your life? Do you desire to see the power of God flow through you? Do you desire to have a greater depth of intimacy with the Lord? It is possible. But it comes through prayer that seeks the Lord until He is found. Start making it a point to change the way you pray. Stop praying only for your needs. Stop seeing prayer as a religious duty. Stop looking at the clock. Start seeking the Lord Himself. Start learning how to tarry and wait for His presence. Wait in expectation that He will meet with you. Seek Him in all your ways and every decision. Don’t just pray about a need, pray until you have heard His voice and been touched by faith that causes you to know beyond any doubt what His will is. Be still in prayer and let Him touch your heart and change it. As you do these things you will experience the revival fires begin to burn within your own heart and soul.
Let me close with this quote: “There is no power like that of prevailing prayer-- of Abraham pleading for Sodom, Jacob wrestling in the stillness of the night, Moses standing in the breach, Hannah intoxicated with sorrow, David heartbroken with remorse and grief, Jesus in sweats of blood. Add to this list from the records of the church your personal observation and experience, and always there is the cost of passion unto blood. Such prayer prevails. It turns ordinary mortals into men of power. It brings power. It brings fire. It brings rain. It brings life. It brings God.” -- Samuel Chadwick.