Prayer is an Amazing Privilege
When Jesus lived on earth, the center of the Jewish religious life was the temple in Jerusalem. Every day, priests offered sacrifices and worship (1 Chronicles 16:37-42). In the time of Jesus, the temple was divided into these main areas:
· The court of the Gentiles (where anyone could enter);
· the court of women (reserved for ritually pure Jewish women);
· the court of the Israelites, reserved for ritually pure Jewish men);
· the temple court where sacrifices were made;
· the Holy Place (reserved for priests);
· and the innermost chamber called the Holy of Holies.
A huge, thick, beautiful curtain separated the Holy of Holies from the rest of the temple. Behind the veil was the altar and the ark of the covenant. It was the earthly residence of God’s presence and glory (Hebrews 9:1-9). The curtain signified the fact that man was separated from God by sin (Isaiah 59:1-2).
Only the high priest could enter the Holy of Holies and then, only once a year on the Day of Atonement to offer a sacrifice for the sins of the nation (Leviticus 16; Hebrews 9:7; Exodus 30:10).
But Jesus changed all of that!
When Jesus was crucified, He became the permanent offering for sin (Isaiah 53:5). The moment He died, the curtain in the temple was split from top to bottom (Matthew 27:45-51). This was no small thing. The massive curtain was sixty feet high and three to four inches thick.
The splitting of the curtain graphically signified that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was sufficient atonement for the sins of the world. The daily sacrifices for sins were no longer necessary. The annual sacrifice was no longer needed.
The splitting of the curtain also signified that access to God was no longer limited. God’s children now have access to His throne. As Jesus’ body was torn for us, the curtain was torn in two giving us open access to God. (Hebrews 10:19-22). We now have God welcomes us to come to Him and He promises to listen to us - “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us (1 John 5:14). What a privilege!
From the moment Jesus died for us on the cross and curtain was torn, all of God’s children have had open access to His throne of grace. Unlike the high priest, we can come every day and any time of the day and as often as we like Unlike the high priest, we do not have to offer sacrifice for sin, Jesus already did that. We have been invited to come to ask for help and for the things we need.
This is astounding!
Powerful prayer begins as we take full advantage of the amazing privilege of access we have been given to God. It is viewing our daily time with the Lord as entering the Holy of Holies. It is enjoying that open invitation we have to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16).
Adapted from the book, 28 Days to Powerful Prayer, Dave Earley, Barbour