Until recently, I had never considered the vitality of my prayer life. What is it that’s really important to the Lord when we pray? I know He wants us to pray, so I figured since I was praying it was enough.
But what’s important to the Lord? What does He want me to get out of this thing called prayer?
Last year I had the opportunity to experience an example of the Tabernacle, much like the Israelites built before entering the Promised Land. What I discovered about the Lord, myself, and my relationship with the Lord surprised me.
The Tabernacle was a special place for the Israelites. It was set in the middle of their camp, and God Himself dwelt within the Tabernacle among His people. The Tabernacle preceded the Temple, and every detail was significant.
We can thumb through chapter upon chapter within the Old Testament to discover the immense details the Lord required of the Tabernacle. This was to be His place to interact with His people; the items and activities within this structure specifically pointed to what was to come through Christ.
However, before one could even interact with the Lord a standard needed to be set, and it had everything to do with the attitude of the heart.
Entering the Tabernacle meant one thing, that those who enter are stepping into the presence of the Lord. The Israelites knew that one doesn’t just meander into the presence of the Almighty, but how do you approach the King of Kings?
A sacrifice must be made.
When the priests enter the gate the first event that takes place is an animal sacrifice. We won’t delve into the details of what animal and how often, just know before stepping into the Lord’s presence there needs to be a blood sacrifice…through an animal.
When the animal is placed upon the alter, the worshipper is to lay his hands upon the animal’s head signalizing he is placing his faith into this sacrifice as payment for his sin. (Leviticus 4:4)
During this event a self-check has to take place.
Surely when sacrificing the priests took into consideration who the Lord is-perfect and holy-and who they are-imperfect beings. Surely they recognize they are in need of something to help them in their imperfect states. Surely they see that God provides a solution for them, accepts their payment of sin, and in turn accepts them.
Accepting them in their state of imperfection and need.
Do you see what has to happen here? Yes, payment for sin is happening; however, before approaching the Lord, one must recognize his place and the Lord’s place. One must recognize his own issues with sin, and his only solution is through the Lord.
Humility of heart has to happen.
Inside the Tabernacle rested the Holy Place, designed for communing with God.
Before the priests enter the Holy Place, cleaning has to take place as well with the washing of water. The priests have to clean their hands and feet before entering the Tabernacle and before they present a sacrifice on the alter, or they die. Since water often is representative of God’s word, we can see here that we cannot be clean without the Lord.
We need God to cleanse us of our impurities.
The cleansing within the Tabernacle was temporary, which is why they needed repeated cleansing. However, because Jesus is God in the form of man, His death on the cross is most definitely a permanent solution of the cleansing we need.
Do you see what’s happening before the priests ever are allowed to enter the Holy Place? Multiple opportunities of humility are presented for the priests. It’s as if the Lord is telling us, know who you are and know who I Am before you approach me.
Humility of heart has to happen.
Today, we do not need the Tabernacle to commune with the Lord. Today, we do not need a priest to mediate to the Lord on our behalf. Today, we do not need multiple sacrifices to atone for our sins.
Jesus takes care of all that.
Yet since I know that God is not a man and does not change over time, I have to assume that God still expects a humble heart when He is approached.
I know in my life, I often grow comfortable with the Lord. I know I can boldly approach the throne of grace because that’s what the Bible tells me! (Hebrews 4:16) Yet, I also know that I often approach the Lord flippantly.
I don’t want to take away the accessibility the Lord offers to us, or the close relationship we receive from the Lord.
But do I approach Him with a humble heart?
A heart of gratitude?
A heart of reverence?
It’s an easy thing to forget, and maybe that’s why Jesus said, “…do this in remembrance of me.” Maybe that’s why taking communion regularly is so important. It places our focus back on the cross.
It reminds us of our need for the Lord.
It reminds us we have no right to demand fellowship with the Lord, yet He offers it to us.
It reminds us we have no claim to His inheritance apart from Christ.
Maybe that’s why when many of us pray we close with, “…in Jesus name I pray…” not because God needs to know we’re approaching Him through Christ, but because we need a reminder how to approach Him.
Somewhere along the way I’ve lost this idea of reverence and humility. I so often draw near to the Lord, claim Him as Daddy and friend that I simply forget He is also LORD.
Creator of all things.
Alpha and Omega.
So what is it that I should walk away with once my prayer is complete? Answers? Satisfaction? Guidance?
I can’t tell you if my prayers are all of a sudden laced with humility and reverence, and I can’t tell you exactly what that looks like. But I do know this…
…it must be vital.