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. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. ~Hebrews 10.19-26Paul tells us of a "new and living way" for having access to God; it is "by the blood of Jesus", "through his flesh"; it is for those who "draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water."What hinders a sense of God's presence in prayer is the opposite of the things provided by him. When we come, wavering in the wind of doubt, trying to find some merit or technique that would help us see, hear, or know God, we have failed to lay hold on the simplest of words. We "draw near" through something done outside of us, something that does not bring God down to us, but raises our spirit to him through the mediation of one who has linked our hearts to God in his own.
I just remembered something I wanted to follow-up about praying for God.
Jesus was prayed with by his disciples, but I wonder how often he was prayed for? And being with him as God in the flesh, all of their daily conversation could be construed as prayer, asking him questions, begging his help, or simply waiting for his reply. It seems they sometimes attempted to instruct him or disagree with him as well, but did they ever pray for him?
When he asked Peter, James, and John to "watch" with him as he entered the Oil Press of God (Gethsemene's garden), they soon fell asleep. His own words tell us he wanted them to at least pray for themselves, that they "enter not into temptation", but what did they do when they saw him in this great, wrenching agony of soul, sweating drops of blood, and clinging to the cool evening earth for support? Did they even know or were they like men who dream they are awake while they close their eyes for a little respite from the world?
Who ever prayed for Jesus? And what was that like, always being the object of desire, the one sought after to "do" for this one or another, but never sought that he might be prayed for and ministered to?
Of course, his disciples loved him. Mary washed his feet in her tears. Peter longed to meet him as they walked to one another on the water. They shared his daily work, doing what he ask and following where he led. Yet, in all this I don't read of their prayers to God for him. Maybe they did and we are simply not told.
You might think I'm pushing this thing too far, this idea of praying for God. Well, that could be. But I will tell you there are times when I get sick of praying for my will to be done, for the will of those who constantly complain to be satisfied, for the help of a church that is so prone to wander and world so full of deceit. I long to pray for one who wants it, who knows what it means and cares for it like it were their own. Who better than Christ?
Would I not be praying for God if I focus on his will being done, at whatever cost to myself? Do I want to know him more than I want to satisfy myself or others? Is my real reason to pray for the sole reason of knowing him and serving him? Is it not praying for God to ask him as Master what he wants me to do today, who does he want me to minister to, where does he want me to go?
We often forget how hidden God appeared to his disciples. They seldom caught a glimpse of the glory he had with the Father before the world was made. Only here and there did divinity flash through the veil and show them the "unseen things above". What they did see from day to day was a man much like themselves, with no "form or comeliness" that "we should desire him" (Isaiah 53). He appeared like "a root out of dry ground" and many even turned their faces away. Would it not have seemed the right thing to do to pray for the Suffering Servant of God? Yet the record is strangely silent.
Perhaps today we are so caught up in seeing God's glory we do not realise he is in the humble appearance of a man, in the hidden place of suffering, lying on the ground like Job's potsherd, fit only to scrape the wound of humanity. If we see Christ in his humility and suffering for us, then in praying for him we can only be praying for ourselves, something we seem rightly well disposed to do.
I have added a new section to my sidebar for reviewing sites of interest in the ether of the web, things I want to call your attention to, things that feed my soul or challenge it to heed the higher calling of God, as he reconciles us to himself in the death and resurrection of his Son. (2 Corinthians 5).
Here is what I've said on my best find to date on spiritual formation:
I've recently found a man after my own heart in a blog called Beyond the Rim, by William Meisheid. Though a blog on the surface, Mr. Meisheid, an Anglican layman and conservative, is a professional tech writer as well as essayist and poet. His 'about me' links will take you to his other work. From what I've read so far, I can only highly recommend him to those wanting a personal experience in the things of God. I have a link to his other site on Knowing God in my Spiritual Formation section above. I'm looking forward to reading more of Mr. Meisheid's work. I'm sure there are areas of disagreement, we being from different churches, but I feel I have many things to learn from his humble example. I hope you'll take time to read at least a few of his recent post. "Come and see", said Jesus when his two new disciples asked where he was staying. This simple invitation is for all who seek a Saviour for their soul. I believe Mr. Meisheid one of those who Came and Saw the good thing of God.
William Meisheid writes with an honest, open voice of one who seeks for those inner things of truth where Christ longs to abide in the heart. While Christ alone is our perfect spiritual director, he makes his plea and teaches us through the spiritually gifted men and women of his body on earth, the church. He, the head, directs his body for the enrichment of all his children. As we come to him wearing the yoke of service, bound in union with him through his death and resurrection for our sin, we are also gathered into union with our fellow servants and friends of God.
The church is a gathered people and will remain a gathered people in Christ for all who believe his promise of eternal life. We are called the children of light, children of promise, a royal priesthood, the temple of God, and prisoners of hope. Jesus binds us together in his flesh, having shared that flesh as the "first born of many" (Heb. 2). Let us submit to this pleasant bond of faith and share the good thing of God, Christ his Son, with each other, becoming one through "the truth as it is in Jesus".
For you will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; you will not be pleased with a burnt offering.The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. Psalm 51.16-17
If we want to please God we will bring the greatest sacrifice of all to him, the one made by his Son. Nothing we feel in contrition for sin can compare to the "broken and contrite heart" of Christ when he was crucified for the sins of the world. His sacrifice was not despised by his Father.
God desires truth in the "inward parts" (51.6 KJV), but we have nothing like that to show him except when Christ, who is the Way, the Truth, and the Life dwells in those parts. When Jesus walks that inner part, in the "valley of the shadow of death", it is then that we "fear no evil" (Ps 23). God does not delight in our good works of repentance, in the offering of grand sacrifices, the gesturing cruciform of our splayed bodies bathed in tears, or the paltry pittance we call offerings. None of this atones for the sin of our "inward parts", where hatred, envy, lust, greed, and pride have polluted the pure springs of conscience.
The bitter waters flowing the valley of our death can be cleansed only by the blood of Christ. His brokenness is our mending; we are put together again because he could not be. His broken form was shattered beyond recognition and we "turned our faces" away (Isaiah 53); as Matthew Henry says on this verse, " Men despise that which is broken, but God will not." The sacrifice of Christ' broken spirit was despised by a humanity that takes pride in the supposed beauty of it's wholeness. But God says this doesn't impress him; He "delights" when that pride is snapped in half, when it's brittle ice is shattered into a thousand pieces. For then we are prepared to receive what has been done for us, what has been given to us, that perfect sin-bearing suffering of his Son, the sweat-smelling savour of God.
I'm taking a break from rearranging the mess in my bedroom, listening to Ralph Stanley sing the best Bluegrass music made, and thinking of what a hillbilly I really am. I even got my old hat on, the one Art thought he got rid of, the one Darla saved without me knowing it, for 30 years.
I spent several hours talking to her on the phone while I uploaded new pictures to the Gallery. If you doubt my roots you might take a look. I miss my family, a good hurt, for this "man of constant sorrow".