One week ago the world celebrated or at least recognized the pinnacle moment of history; the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Sadly, by the next day most everyone went back to normal living as if it never happened.
But what should be different? Or perhaps the better question is: How can my life today be changed by the Resurrection of Jesus? How can my life be transformed by the miracle of the Resurrection that happened over two thousand years ago?
Two words sum up one big difference, one seismic change that can then transform everything: Constant access.
When Jesus breathed His last on the cross, many miraculous phenomena occurred at that moment; some simultaneously, including an earthquake and graves opening with some of the dead coming to life. But for our topic today the wonder that seems more jaw-dropping to me was the ripping of the huge curtain before the Holy of Holies in the Jewish temple (Matthew 27:51). The Holy of Holies was a sacred square room where God dwelt, and no ordinary person could enter that room and therefore into His presence. The curtain guarding God’s presence was thick, heavy and woven in one gigantic piece; various Jewish sources say it was from 30-60 feet tall.
The tearing of the curtain from top to bottom, as if by invisible hands, signified many changes God was making, but an important and practical one for us today is it symbolized a new and constant access to God’s presence. Because of Christ’s sacrifice, the curtain was torn in half, by God Himself, inviting entrance into God’s holy presence for all who desire to come to Him. It’s as if God hung a sign over that space that said, “Now Open.”
That means we can talk to God, which is to enter into His presence, at any time in contrast to those who lived before the Cross who could only be near God by going to the temple. And never could they go behind the curtain.
So how does this change our prayers today?
First, we can pray anytime and anywhere because the way is now open. Jesus actually modeled this kind of praying for us. The Gospels record Him talking to His Father in various places during the day and the night. And He demonstrated a simple pattern to follow instead of giving us a list of rules with dos and don’ts. What we call the “Lord’s Prayer”—starting with “Our Father who art in heaven”—invites a personal, anytime, anywhere kind of relationship.
Any time means God is always available. As Psalm 121:4 tells us, “Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.” I love this verse because I know when I’m awake at night, which is more than I’d like, I can talk to God in the darkness of night and know He is listening.
Psalm 121:4 was the inspiration for a wonderful prayer in God’s Minute: A Book of 365 Daily Prayers published in 1916, a little book full of great prayers that I found at a flea market:
My ever-present Father,
I praise Thee for constant access to Thee in Jesus Christ.
Thou art ever the same.
I give thanks there is never a “Closed” sign
posted before Thy throne, nor “Away for Vacation.”
With Thee there is not even any shutting the eyes.
For Thy Word says,
“He who keeps you will neither slumber nor sleep.
How great is my God.
Think about that! God is always available, never sleeps and is ready to listen any time I call His name!
It is incomprehensible to me to imagine life without sleep. As a mom I often craved sleep and even made it an idol. Even in my empty-nest years, without children waking me, good restful sleep is something I often long for.
Someday I will leave the confines of this earthly body. God’s promise of being made in the image of Jesus, with a glorified body, will become reality. To be unencumbered by fatigue sounds wonderful!
And it might be fun, too. Remember Jesus appeared in rooms without walking in the door? And He walked on water! What freedoms might we enjoy one day when we are with Him? For now, you and I are too confined to our earthly bodies, the tents in which we now reside.
But God. He neither slumbers nor sleeps!
Second, we can experience God’s ever-with-me presence anytime and anywhere. In the Old Testament God confined Himself to that small room, the Holy of Holies, inside the temple behind that huge thick curtain as part of His plan. Because His people didn’t have the presence of God with them as we do with the gift of the Holy Spirit, they had to go to the temple and offer sacrifices to be near God and to make peace with Him.
What a spectacular difference in life before the Cross and after! Yet, sadly, we are so accustomed to this access to God that we often take it for granted. As we look at prayer for the next month, remind yourself of the wonder of God’s access and His presence with you and in you! The Old Testament saints would be in awe. And so should we.
Practically this means I don’t have to go to church to pray and be near God. If I know Jesus as my Savior, He is not just near me, He is by His Spirit IN me. Jesus said to His disciples during the Last Supper that the Holy Spirit “dwells with you and will be in you” (John 14:17).
The holy almighty presence of God resides WITHIN me, not just near me. Let that sink in for a minute and you might feel different about your day today.
So even when we are tired or feeling far from God we may at any time, in any place, for any reason confidently approach “the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16).
When you wake startled from a harrowing nightmare or from the cries of a sick child, or when you toss with the insomnia of an anxious heart, His eyes—and His heart—are wide open. Is there anyone else like Him? No lover, no ruler, no mother can ever compare to His unshakable open-door policy.
God invites you to approach His throne boldly. Not cautiously, fearfully, or only during certain hours, but with confidence. Simply stunning is our access to our God.
Do you know Jesus? If you have surrendered your life to His safekeeping, this is the kind of relationship He wants—free unlimited access at any time day or night. Run to Him boldly, in every hour—and give thanks that He is perpetually available to your every need.
If you don’t know Jesus, now is a great time to surrender to Him. This kind of anytime anywhere prayer is how you begin a real relationship with God. Start by telling Him you want to know Him and that you want Him to rule and reign in your heart. Confess that you’ve done a lousy job of running your life on your own and that you want His help. Tell Him whatever you desire, but most important is your surrender, your admission you can’t do life on your own.
God loves to hear that from His children. He’s a good Father who wants the best for His kids, so invite Him to start that work in your life. This Easter season is a great time to begin!
This is the first of five blog posts on prayer between now and June. I have loved reading old prayers since the days of my mothering when I discovered the prayers of saints like Susanna Wesley. Each blog post will feature an old prayer from someone now in the great cloud of witnesses (Hebrews 12:1). We have much to learn from these saints of old; though some words are not in vogue today they help us see God in ways we don’t in our modern world. I hope you enjoy this series!
To help you talk to God, we encourage you to print the beautifully designed prayer at the beginning of this blog post.
If you enjoyed reading this, be sure to read “Pestering God,” another post by Barbara about prayer.