God has a plan for your life. We’ve heard that statement many times, yet how many believers still stumble forward day by day wondering if they are indeed in their Father’s perfect will?
Why does the way of God seem mysterious at times and why is His voice so often overwhelmed and drowned out by the clamour of daily life?
Outward pursuits and religious observances offer no relief for the seeker because they look to please and honour God from the outside in. Noble and holy in appearance, mere duty or restriction cannot open the door to peace and joy.
Yes, we are to be disciplined. After all, to be a disciple is to be a ‘disciplined one’. But the disciplines and delights of holy living are an overflow of inner communion with the Holy God, not the avenue to reach Him.
The Pattern of True Prayer
In the tabernacle in the wilderness, we see a picture so profound that the Lord saw fit to dedicate more chapters to its construction and function than almost any other subject in the Scriptures.
Beginning in Exodus 25, God describes His blueprints for the building of the Tabernacle.
Revealingly, He begins with the Ark of the Covenant, not the outer courts.
The pattern begins with His presence.
I think it unfortunate that we often begin at the opposite end of things, on the threshold of approach in the outer courts. Concerned with the right and wrong way to do things, imposing patterns and prayer rules before we even get started. More aware of the world around us than the hidden place of His presence, we attempt to reach a God who is seemingly far away and shrouded from view and dump our list of requests and requirements on His doorstep.
Our attempts to pray fall flat because we must first be positioned to pray. No flesh can appear before God. All of our efforts come up short because they are the works of the natural man trying to reach a distant deity.
This is religion, not reality.
The position we need to take is one of humility and boldness. Seeming opposites, humility and boldness in prayer are two sides of the same coin.
Humility recognises your inability to produce any results in your own strength. You come in weakness and genuine need of grace. But the blood on the mercy seat of Heaven invites you to holy confidence, and to approach God without fear.
The Pattern Flows From Presence
Our first introduction to the blueprints for the magnificent place of God’s dwelling begins with the Ark of the Covenant and the Mercy Seat.
From here the pattern unfolds.
God’s presence is first and foremost.
Do you have His presence? Seek nothing else until you do.
Here too is the seat of His speaking.
God speaks and His plans unfurl.
Here in the place of hearing prayer is spoken, heard and answered.
There is a tangible and fearfully awesome reality to the words, “Our Father in Heaven”, when they are spoken in the presence of the One whom we address with our supplications.
Instead of cold heartless repetitions, our heart burns within us and prayer becomes a flame licking up from our inner man.
Pray Until You Pray
There is much truth in the statement, pray until you pray.
Prayer is the natural outbreathing of a spirit in the presence of the Father of Spirits.
Prayer begins in and flows from His presence.
This is why we must pray until we sense His presence and leading. Until our awareness of God overshadows our splintered attention and preoccupation with the world. When the fleshly appetites fall away hunger for eternity grips the inner man and prayer is drawn from the deep of our heart, calling to the deep of God. It is a hunger that God’s presence alone can satisfy.
In Exodus 25 I especially love verse 22 from the Amplified translation:
“There I will meet with you and, from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are upon the ark of the Testimony, I will speak intimately with you of all which I will give you in commandment to the Israelites.” (Exodus 25:22 AMP)
God’s pattern, His perfections, and His purposes proceed from His presence.
Intimate Unashamed Fellowship
God’s praying people have an invitation in Christ to come boldly into this intimate, unashamed fellowship.
“For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15–16 KJV)
What a relief to discover that our bold approach is not based on our own holiness or strength. We come on the basis of Jesus’ perfect sacrifice, first to obtain mercy, then to be empowered by grace!
As New Testament believers this is the pattern we follow. Presence precedes prayer. Awareness of God and His ability comes before any request is ever made.
Don’t come with your arms full of your own plans insisting that He fulfil them. Come instead to His presence and the place of His intimate speaking and let Him determine your direction.
What would you have me ask today, Lord?
Holy Spirit, how would you have me pray?