Do you struggle to pray? If you are like me, then you go through times of prayerlessness. That is a very long word that represents the vast time of our lives that have been spent without prayer. God has taught me much through my 11 years as a Christian. I’ve not been the best of students either. He usually has to take extreme measures with me. For some reason I’m hard headed and think my way is best; so he has to get my attention with his staff. Shepherds use their staffs for comforting their sheep and correcting them, if you know what I mean. I have spent much of my Christian life being disciplined with that staff. Don’t get me wrong; I love his discipline because it assures me of his love for me. Those he loves he chastens, be zealous therefore and repent.
I say all this to say, that God has taught me much through suffering, pain, and hardships, and I would like to pass one of those lessons on to you. I was a four-year-old Christian when I took the pastorate of my first church. Talk about on the job training. I knew I was doing what God wanted me to do, but I must admit that I was overwhelmed. I had a full time job as the principal/teacher of a Christian School, and I was responsible to preach 3 sermons a week. When I would get home from school I would close myself up in my office and start studying to preach. I was so stressed and pressed about getting my sermons done that I wouldn’t even pray. I think back now and blush. What an idiot I was! Basically I’m saying, “God! I’m to busy working for you to talk to you.” I mean I prayed but it wasn’t like it should have been. It’s only by his grace that he let me live or remain a pastor.
One day I was reading a sermon by Jonathan Edwards, entitled: The preacher before the throne of God, and the Lord rocked me to the core of my being. I put that sermon down, and fell on my face weeping before a Holy God. The following Sunday I repented before the church in the sermon I preached. That’s a hard thing to do right there. Remember, I’m hard headed, so God has to take extreme measures to get my attention and make me remember. I’ve had many more lessons since then, and I know that there are many more to come.
My whole point in telling this one story is to show you that I’m not writing to you from a white tower of holiness. I am a sinner whose walk with God has been anything but perfect. I want you to see that prayer is so very important to your life, and I want you to see how foolish it is to neglect it.
Adam broke relationship with God in Garden of Eden. From that point on God doesn’t have a continuous relationship with anyone. Sure, there are sporadic incidents throughout the Old Testament where God speaks with someone, but it can hardly be called true fellowship. The people would go to the temple every year on the Day of Atonement to have their sins covered, but only one man went into the presence of God, and he went with fear and trembling. Nobody was allowed to have a relationship with God because the blood of goats and bulls would not reconcile sinners to a holy God. It only covered their sins so that God did not crush them under his holy wrath.
One day, over two thousand years ago, God became a man and gave his life to reconcile us to himself. I like the way Charles Haddon Spurgeon said it, “God himself, gave himself, to save us from himself.” When Jesus Christ gave his life on Calvary many things happened. The one thing that I want to emphasize in this blog is that Christ made a relationship with God possible again. His last cry from the cross was “tetelestia”. A Greek word that means it is finished.
At that moment the veil in the temple was ripped. This veil was that barrier that kept men from going into the presence of God. The only person that could go behind that veil was the high priest on the Day of Atonement. Why did God rip that veil? He ripped it to show us that the blood of Christ has made access to God available for anyone who would come covered in Christ’s blood. That is a pretty amazing thing to think about. Christ died so that we could once again have continuous fellowship with God.
He was beaten unmercifully. His beard was ripped from his cheek. Your spit soaked his face. He was nailed to a tree. All of this and more were to take the punishment, guilt, and shame of your sin, and cloth you in his very own righteousness. No longer must we go into his presence with fear and trembling. We can approach the throne of grace with boldness because of Christ. That which the people of the Old Testament could not do, we can because of the blood of Christ. What folly it would be for those who have been offered a relationship with the creator of the universe not to have time for him. If an earthly king offered to have you over for dinner, you would fall all over yourself getting there, but the King of Kings has a hard time getting on our schedule.
God wants to have a relationship with you. He gave his life so you could be his friend. You spit in his face, you pluck the beard from his cheek, you stripped him naked, you nailed him to a tree, and yet, he still died for you. I can’t believe he wants us to be his friend and have a relationship with him. I can’t believe we would neglect having fellowship with a God like that.