Summary: Second in a series on prayer looking at the prerequisites for prayer.
Prerequisites related to the Work of Christ
III. PREREQUISITES FOR PRAYER – What is required for effective dialogue with God?
Given the vast separation between an absolutely holy God and an absolutely sinful man, who can we expect to carry on any kind of dialogue with God? What gives us the audacity to approach God? What makes us think we can dialogue with God and survive?
The Old Testament paints a frightening picture of relationship with God.
What are some of the Biblical images?
The writer of Hebrews summarizes the sentiment of the Israelites.
For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind, and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them. For they could not bear the command, "IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED." And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, "I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling." Hebrews 12:18-21
Smoke, fear, trembling, fire, earthquakes, ground opening up, lightening, struck with leprosy, death, distance, barriers, blazing light, flaming swords.
The law contained some elaborate rituals of purity and sacrifice required to approach God.
All this was symbolized in the time of Jesus by the thick veil that separated the holy place from the holy of holies.
The general feeling concerning relationship with God was fear and distance.
Only a privileged few enjoyed close relationship with God i.e. Abraham, Moses, Elijah, the prophets, David.
Jesus came to change all that. He came to demonstrate a side of God not generally understood; the love, mercy and grace of God who longed for intimate relationship with His creatures. That change is what the Gospels is all about.
Meaningful dialogue with God is affected by Christ’s work, our walk and the Father’s will. We will spend some time on each of those areas.
A.Requirements related to the WORK OF CHRIST
Jesus fulfilled three important requirements for dialogue with God. A.S K. We first need someone to get us access to the throne room. God’s holiness blocks access to those without proper clearance. Once in the throne room we need standing or reputation or status. Access and standing may allow us to present our case but kinship will determine intimacy and response to those petitions. Jesus makes all three a reality.
We will explore a few key Scripture passages related to each of these important truths.
1.Access – through the blood of Christ
And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:50-51
But now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. Ephesians 2:13
And He came and preached peace to you who were far away, and peace to those who were near; for through Him we both have our access in one Spirit to the Father. Ephesians 2:17-18
This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and confident access through faith in Him. Ephesians 3:11-12
Therefore, brethren, since we have confidence to enter the holy place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He inaugurated for us through the veil, that is, His flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Hebrews 10:19-22
Until Jesus, we could not enter God’s presence. His death on the cross gave us confident access to God’s throne.
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16
2.Standing – through the righteousness of Christ
It is one thing to gain access to God’s presence; it is another to have standing. It is not enough to have our criminal record cleared. We need a record of positive righteousness. None of us could do enough good works to merit standing before God who is pure righteousness. There is only one place to get that kind of righteousness. Christ gives us His righteousness. His perfect record of righteousness has been deposited in our account.