Our Wonderful Privilege and the Holy of Holies

Prayer today is such an incomprehensible privilege many of us take for granted, of which saints of old didn’t have the honor. Don’t misunderstand, they did pray. However, there was a closeness and intimacy with God that was denied them.

Leviticus is not most people’s favorite book in the Bible; however, foolish are we if we casually dismiss it. For this book instructs us in the holiness of God. The Day of Atonement (chapter 16) is a lesson and foreshadowing of the death of Christ. You see, persons didn’t just waltz into the presence of God (the Holy of Holies). In fact, they were denied any access to it. Only the high priest was to enter, only once a year, and only after he performed rigorous preparation. All of this, and the sacrifice, was done in order to atone for the sins of the people. 

When Jesus died (which is the final and only Sacrifice by which we are saved) an amazing thing happened. We are told,

And behold, the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. And the earth shook, and the rocks were split. ~ Matthew 27:51

It is said the curtain was 4 inches thick, and it symbolized the way our sins separated us from God. I’ve read that the curtain was so thick that horses tied on both sides would be unable to rip it. Yet, this curtain was supernaturally torn in half, as God removed this separation through the death of Christ.

For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation. ~ Romans 5:10-11

Are you seeing the significance yet? Those who are born again, redeemed by the blood of the Lamb have access to God. It is only by the atoning and redemptive work of Christ we are able to enter the very presence of God in prayer.

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. ~ Hebrews 4:16

Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. ~ Hebrews 10:19-22

What audacity! What a slap in the face, when we refuse the privilege of prayer because it’s “too boring” or we’re “too busy.” We’re like the excuse makers is Jesus’ parable of some who were invited to the king’s banquet. “I have bought a field, and I must go out and see it,” says one. “I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to examine them. Please have me excused,” says a second. “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come,” the third man says (Luke 14:18-20).

We say prayer is important, but how many genuinely believe this? After all, sports, movies, and video games aren’t really important at all but we give serious time and attention to these, don’t we?

Understand, prayer is not to be some legalistic routine, otherwise it loses all value. Furthermore, sports, movies, and games aren’t wrong in themselves. But what a shame the living God of the universe invites us to come to Him and talk, but we make excuses. Yet, how many of us would skip school, call off work, or change our plans if we were invited to come and talk to our favorite actor, singer, or well known preacher or theologian? Yet, these are all mere mortals who are going to stand before God, just like us, and give account.

Oh that God would restore within us a genuine astonishment of being able, through the blood of Christ, to enter the Holy of Holies to talk to the King who has redeemed, called, and adopted us! What an awesome privilege is ours!

But Do We Desire Him?

So many worship songs today declare how God’s love and grace make us feel. He showers on us His love. He gave His life for us, and fills us with His peace. “I could sing of Your love forever,” we sing, but does this include when a driver cuts us off or a restaurant employee messes up our order?

We talk and sing about God’s great love and sacrifice for us—that He gave His all to redeem us, to make us His own. But do we love Him? Do we genuinely desire Him? Please consider what I’m about to say. We modern Christians have made our feelings and worship into idols. I’m afraid, if we are honest, many love the emotional stimuli surrounding worship far more than the God whom is being claimed as being worshipped. 

Another thing we’ve carved into an idol is knowledge. Many take great delight in studying the Bible, theology, and hearing a good sermon. Mind you, of themselves these are good things; however, do we love the knowledge more than the Giver of knowledge?

We will spend hours at concerts, conferences, seminars, or in studies. But how much time will we be still in God’s presence, simply conversing with Him in prayer? For the vast majority, such time is significantly decreased. How can we truly love and adore one whom we don’t want to be with, who cramps our style, whom we’re too busy for, and not worth sacrificing other things for just to be with Him?

Leonard Ravenhill observes, “A man may study because his brain is hungry for knowledge, even Bible knowledge. But he prays because his soul is hungry for God.” How many of us can truly say our soul is hungry for God? What about when we set aside the music, the lights, and the various nuances and stimuli? Do we desire Him, to talk to Him, and to hear directly from Him? The psalmist writes,

“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God.” ~ Psalm 42:1-2

How many of us can truly say this? God doesn’t only want our praise and worship (although He does want these). He also wants our hearts, our time, and our presence with Him. Do we give Him these from devoted hearts filled with love and desire for Him? If we can only muster a couple of minutes to Him, can we truly answer affirmatively? Oh, we desire warm-fuzzies, entertainment, and motivationals—but do we desire Him?