Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, … let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19, 22
Why do so many of us struggle with prayer? Sometimes the best we can muster up is a list of all our problems and needs, and all the people we know who have problems and needs, and then ask God to help us. But prayer is meant to be so much more. The best part of prayer is the relationship we can have with God.
Because Jesus took our sins on himself over two thousand years ago, we’ve been given access to the presence of God. There are no rituals or penitent acts to perform, no groveling. Just before Jesus died, he said “It is finished.” The veil—a thick, heavy curtain—which hung in the temple—was torn in two from top to bottom by God in heaven to us on earth (Matthew 27:50-51). Anyone who was in the temple at the time saw the holiest place on earth, the Holy of Holies. This was a place only a high priest had been able to enter once a year, and he could only come with the blood of a sacrifice.
Jesus Christ’s sacrifice opened for us a “new and living way” (Hebrews 10:20). As our high priest, he ushers us into the holiest place ever. We can talk directly to God, full of faith and with a clear conscience (v. 22). We do this when we pray.
Hymn writer Fanny Crosby expressed this prayer experience in the hymn “I am Thine, O Lord”:
Oh, the pure delight of a single hour
That before Thy throne I spend,
When I kneel in prayer, and with Thee, my God
I commune as friend with friend!
Draw me nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To the cross where Thou hast died;
Draw me nearer, nearer, nearer blessed Lord,
To Thy precious, bleeding side.
Jesus Christ is calling us to draw nearer as friend with friend, “Let’s talk!”
Read Matthew 26:36-46. What could these three have learned about more intimate prayer if they hadn’t fallen asleep? How can we “watch and pray” with Jesus?
Are you ever afraid to talk directly to God? Read Hebrews 12:18-24. How different is our access to God than the access the Israelites had at Mt. Sinai?
You may be familiar with Revelation 3:20 as an invitation to receive Jesus Christ as Savior. But the verse signifies more than that. Read the context: Revelation 3:15-22. Why is Jesus rebuking the church at Laodicea? What invitation does he extend to them and “whoever has ears to hear”?
Nancy J. Baker