- By Carmen Perret-Smith
As outlined in the previous article, our way of connecting to God and his plans has always been and will always be through the path of prayer. Simply stated, prayer is “talking with God.” Though there are many forms of prayer, we are essentially engaging in what should be a two-way conversation with the Lord. In the Book of Luke, the disciples ask Jesus to teach them to pray and he teaches them the pattern of prayer through the Lord’s Prayer. Then, Jesus reassures us that the Father hears us and responds!
“So I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him?” (Luke 11:9-13, NIV)
Access to Our Father
Jesus clearly shows us that we have the same access to our Father as he himself has; we seek and we find him; we knock and he opens; we ask and he answers. Jesus teaches us here that we are in a conversation with the Almighty God and that there is no barrier to our access to him as a loving and sensitive Father. Jesus invites us to engage with the Father and, as we come confidently into his presence, he welcomes us, rejoices in our affections, then tenderly and sovereignly responds to our requests. What David enjoyed in the tabernacle as “man after God’s own heart” (Acts13:22, 1 Sam 13:14), Jesus completed through his life and death - to completely remove the veil between us and the Father.
The writer of the Book of Hebrews carefully details Jesus as the Great High Priest, who lives to intercede for us, that we would have access to the throne. Jesus’ eternal role is to intercede for humanity; he cares for us that much. Through this revelation of Jesus as the Intercessor, we clearly see how important this function is to both the Father and the Son. It was so deeply desired that Jesus would give his life and, through his death, he now intercedes to draw us ever closer to the Father. Without Jesus’ intercession and mediation, we could never approach the Father, being piteously sinful and undeserving. But because he is our High Priest and Advocate, we are able to confidently approach God as priests before the throne (1 Peter 2:9).
As Priests Before the Throne
So, as undeserving as we are, we are called to imitate Jesus as those who intercede day and night for the plans and purposes of God. We are called to “stand in the gap” as described in Ezekiel 22:30, to minister as priests before the Lord, crying out day and night in agreement with his heart. I believe that Anna and Simeon, who devoted themselves to praying and waiting for the coming King (Luke 2), had a deep revelation of their calling as priests before the Lord. No doubt their prayers were filled with intercession for the world to recognize their coming King and for his kingdom to be manifest on the earth. Surely they prayed for wisdom and mercy in their temple leaders to bend their knee to God’s Chosen Son. I can imagine they prayed with groaning and weeping at times, led by the Spirit of God to agree with the will of God on the earth. They knew, from the prophets, who the Messiah was and what he heralded for mankind, and I’m sure it was both encouraging and terrifying, driving them to their knees inintercession.
These [who love the Lord] I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations. (Isaiah 56:7, NIV)
So, as we take our place as priests before the Almighty God, in our duties to both worship and intercede, we are agreeing with who God is and what he is doing. As we ask Holy Spirit to help us pray more effectively, we will move from duty, to discipline, to delight in the house of prayer, as was promised in Isaiah. We can be sure that, because Jesus is also in his place as an Intercessor, this is a calling worthy of our time, sacrifice, and perseverance. It’s a calling for which we will lay down our lives.